Facebook founder appeared in a convincing hoax video, in which he is seen boasting about hoarding personal data.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has appeared in a ‘deepfake’ video, just weeks after the social media network refused to take down doctored footage of US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing inebriated.
The video of Zuckerberg, which first appeared on Instagram, shows the billionaire boasting about his control over personal data belonging to billions of people.
Besides the accent, it is difficult to tell that it is not the Facebook founder who is talking in the clip.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, has decided to leave the video up.
The burgeoning popularity of deepfakes opens up a new frontier for purveyors of false news, which currently relies on producing news articles and photoshopped images.
But what is the technology and how is it so convincing?
Essentially, deepfakes are the video equivalent of photoshop. However, while editing a single image is relatively simple, doing so in a video is much more complex.
Video is normally made up of between 24 and 30 individual images for each second of footage.
Editing those images, which are known as frames, is normally a time consuming process and near impossible for the amateur working on an ordinary home computer.
Deepfakes, however, rely on a programming script that takes out the labour of swapping out a face in a video.
The technique works by taking in information about facial expressions from videos and then applying them to one or more inanimate images, thereby giving a creator the ability to swap out a face.
Until now, the technique has been used for adult videos purporting to include celebrities and political satire, however, there are concerns that the technique will be used to produce doctored videos of politicians in order to spread fake news.
The fears are not theoretical for dissidents like Indian activist Rana Ayub, whose likeness was used in a pornographic film.
“I was vomiting, my blood pressure shot up, my body had reacted so violently to the stress,” she said after a doctored video emerged.
Sites like Twitter have already introduced policies to counter the phenomenon by deleting deepfake content and blocking those who produce it from the platform.
Facebook has taken a more lax approach, allowing the video of Pelosi to stay up, and even refusing to take down the Zuckerberg clip.