.

  • Written by David Cook, Lecturer, Computer and Security Science,Edith Cowan University, Edith Cowan University
Neural networks can generate artificial representations of human faces, as well as realistic renderings of actual people. Shutterstock

Fake videos and doctored photographs, often based on events such as the Moon landing and supposed UFO appearances, have been the subject of fascination for decades.

Such imagery is often deep fake content, called so because it uses deep learning associated with neural networks and digital image processing.

Last week, Twitter revealed plans to introduce a new policy governing deep fake videos on its platform.

The company proposed it would warn users about deep fake content by flagging tweets with “synthetic or manipulated media”. Twitter says media may be removed in cases where it could lead to serious harm, but has stopped short of enforcing a strict removal stance. Users have until November 27 to provide feedback.

In adopting this warning-only approach towards deep fakes, the social media giant has shown poor judgement.

Why deep fakes are dangerous

With advances in computer science, deep fakes are becoming an increasingly powerful tool to deceive people using social media.

Deep fake clips of celebrities and politicians are realistic enough to trick users into making financial, political and personal decisions based on the fake testimony of others.

This Youtube clip featuring actor Bill Hader shows how realistic deep fake content can be.

Whether it’s a David Koch erectile dysfunction cream scam, an announcement by Donald Trump that AIDs has been eradicated, or a fake interview with Andrew Forrest leading to a finance scam, deep fakes present a serious risk to our ability to trust what we view online.


Read more: People who spread deepfakes think their lies reveal a deeper truth


Social media companies have so far taken a sloppy approach to this threat. They have even promoted the use of photo algorithms letting users experiment with animated face masks, and provided tutorials on how to use editing programs.

Deep fake production is the professional version of this practice. At its worst, it can even threaten democracy.

Twitter’s latest draft policy on deep fakes sets a dangerous precedent. It allows social media platforms to handball away their responsibility to protect customers from manipulated videos and imagery.

Twitter should be just as accountable as television

It’s time social media giants such as Twitter started seeing themselves as the 21st century version of free-to-air television. With TV, there are clear guidelines about what cannot be broadcast.

Since 1992, Australians have been protected by the 1992 Broadcasting Services Act, ensuring what is shows in “fair and accurate coverage”. The act protects viewers in regards to the origin and authenticity of television content.

The same principles should apply to social media. Americans now spend more time on social media than they do watching television, and Australia isn’t far behind.

By suggesting they only need to flag tweets with deep fake content, Twitter’s proposed policy downplays the seriousness of the threat.

Sending the wrong message

Twitter’s draft policy is dangerous on two fronts.

Firstly, it suggests the company is somehow doing its part in protecting its users. In reality, Twitter’s decision is akin to watching a child struggle to swim in heavy surf, while nearby authorities wave a sign saying: “some waves may be hard to judge” - instead of actually helping.


Read more: Lies, 'fake news' and cover-ups: how has it come to this in Western democracies?


Senior citizens and inexperienced social media users are particularly vulnerable to deep fakes. This is because they’re predisposed to trust online content that looks authentic.

The second reason Twitter’s proposition is dangerous is because social media trolls and sock puppet armies enjoy surprising online audiences. Sock puppets are specialists in deceiving users into believing they’re a single fake person (or multiple fake perople) by means of false posts and online identities.

Basically, content that has been signposted as deep fake will be exploited by people wanting to amplify its spread. It’s unrealistic to suppose this won’t happen.

If Twitter flags posts that are fake, yet leaves them up, the likely outcome will be a popularity surge in this content. As per social media algorithms, this means a greater number of fake videos and images will be “promoted” rather than retracted.

Twitter has an opportunity to take a leadership role in preventing the spread of deep fake content, by identifying and removing deep fakes from its platform. All major social media platforms have the responsibility to present a unified approach to the prevention and removal of manipulated and fake imagery.

The circulation of a Nancy Pelosi deep fake video earlier this year revealed social media’s inconsistency in the handling of deceitful imagery. YouTube removed the clip from its platform, Facebook flagged it as false, and Twitter let it remain.


Read more: AI can now create fake porn, making revenge porn even more complicated


Twitter is in the business of helping users repost links and content as many times as possible. It creates profit by generating repeated referrals, commentary, and the acceptance of its content through promoted trends.

If deep fakes aren’t removed from Twitter, their growth will be exponential.

A looming threat

Early versions of such spurious content were relatively easy to spot. People in the first deep fake clips appeared unrealistic. Their eyes would’t blink and their facial gestures wouldn’t sync with the words being spoken.

There are also examples of harmless image manipulation. These include web apps on Snapchat and Facebook that let users alter their photos (usually selfies) to add backgrounds, or resemble characters such as cute animals.

However, this new generation of altered imagery is often hard to distinguish from reality. And as criminals and pranksters improve their production of deep fakes, the other side of this double-edged sword could swing at any time.

Dr David Cook is affiliated with Edith Cowan University as a lecturer in the School of Science, and is a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society

Authors: David Cook, Lecturer, Computer and Security Science,Edith Cowan University, Edith Cowan University

Read more http://theconversation.com/instead-of-showing-leadership-twitter-pays-lip-service-to-the-dangers-of-deep-fakes-127027

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it becomes ongoing and keeps posing new challenges to us. Of course, it may seem easy from some perspe...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas presents for everybody on your checklist. Christmas is now here, and if that you haven't got a hop on ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Ultimate Guide to Sneakers and Sneaker Brands

When it comes to finding the perfect pair of sneakers, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding the right pair for any kind of occasion can be difficult, so brushing up on your knowledge of sn...

News Company - avatar News Company

View from The Hill: Morrison won't have a bar of public service intrusions on government's power

Scott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the long-awaited Thodey review. AAP/Paul BravenScott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the l...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan reflects on the year in politics

For their last video for the year, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini and Michelle Grattan look backwards to the big issues which have shaped political discourse. They discuss the surpr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Choosing a Heavy Weighted Bathmats

Decorating your bathroom doesn’t finish with the paint choice or tile colours. You can change the whole room with the change of your towel set. There are no rules that say that you need to have a ...

News Company - avatar News Company

God as man, man as God: no wonder many Christian men today are having a masculinity crisis

How men saw God shaped how they saw themselves, and in turn, how they saw women. WikimediaThis article is part of our Gender and Christianity series. To understand contemporary Christian ideas about...

William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University - avatar William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University

Australia needs a national crisis plan, and not just for bushfires

Bushfires aren't the only catastrophic emergency Australia is likely to see. AAP Image/Mick TsikasCalls are growing for a national bushfire plan, including from former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull...

Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University - avatar Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University

Your Christmas shopping could harm or help the planet. Which will it be?

Many Australian consumers are concerned at the environmental impact of their shopping habits, especially at Christmas. AAPAustralian shoppers are set to spend $52.7 billion this Christmas. In the word...

Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania - avatar Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania

Right-swipes and red flags – how young people negotiate sex and safety on dating apps

For many young people, app dating is just part of regular dating life. freestocks.org/UnsplashPopular commentary on dating apps often associates their use with “risky” sex, harassment and ...

Kath Albury, Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology - avatar Kath Albury, Professor of Media and Communication, Faculty of Health, Arts and Design, Swinburne University of Technology

Bougainville has voted to become a new country, but the journey to independence is not yet over

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a chain of islands that lie 959 kilometres northwest of Papua New Guinea’s capital, Port Moresby, has voted unequivocally for independence. The referendum...

Anna Powles, Senior Lecturer in Security Studies, Massey University - avatar Anna Powles, Senior Lecturer in Security Studies, Massey University

Comfortable Footwear That'll Get You Through From Day To Night In Style

When you are choosing your footwear, you need to make sure that you are choosing something that is going to be comfortable. This is especially important if you are going to be wearing your shoes a...

Rosana Beechum - avatar Rosana Beechum

How to Have a Peaceful Retirement

Retirement is the time to treat yourself after a lifetime of working, to complete your bucket list and to spend time with the people that you care for. However, having a peaceful retirement can be d...

News Company - avatar News Company

Friday essay: eco-disaster films in the 21st century - helpful or harmful?

A scene from the 2017 film Geostorm: many societies have historically attempted to deal with collective trauma by replaying and restaging it in art. Warner Bros., Electric Entertainment, Rat Pac-Dune ...

Ari Mattes, Lecturer in Communications and Media, University of Notre Dame Australia - avatar Ari Mattes, Lecturer in Communications and Media, University of Notre Dame Australia

A new study shows an animal's lifespan is written in the DNA. For humans, it's 38 years

A genetic "clock" lets scientists estimate how long extinct creatures lived. Wooly mammoths could expect around 60 years. Australian MuseumHumans have a “natural” lifespan of around 38 yea...

Benjamin Mayne, Molecular biologist and bioinformatician, CSIRO - avatar Benjamin Mayne, Molecular biologist and bioinformatician, CSIRO

Vital Signs: Australia's wafer-thin surplus rests on a mine disaster in Brazil

On Monday the Australian government will release the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO). This will – as required by the Charter of Budget Honesty – provide an update on the key a...

Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW - avatar Richard Holden, Professor of Economics, UNSW

Don't believe the stereotype: these 5 charts show our democracy is safe in the hands of future voters

Almost 900 school kids, aged 12 to 17, were surveyed. ShutterstockA new, ongoing survey on how young Australians understand and imagine their democracy is already challenging long-held stereotypes. ...

Mark Evans, Professor of Governance and Director of Democracy 2025 - bridging the trust divide at Old Parliament House, University of Canberra - avatar Mark Evans, Professor of Governance and Director of Democracy 2025 - bridging the trust divide at Old Parliament House, University of Canberra

Private health insurance premiums should be based on age and health status

Policy changes have failed to stop young people dropping their private health insurance. ShutterstockPrivate health insurance has come under intense scrutiny in recent months, as it becomes clear heal...

Francesco Paolucci, Associate Professor; Head of Health Policy Program, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, University of Newcastle - avatar Francesco Paolucci, Associate Professor; Head of Health Policy Program, Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, University of Newcastle

Knowledge is a process of discovery: how constructivism changed education

According to constructivists, we truly understand something when we filter it through our senses and interactions. from shutterstock.comThis is the second of two essays exploring key theories – ...

Luke Zaphir, Researcher for the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project; and Online Teacher at Education Queensland's IMPACT Centre, The University of Queensland - avatar Luke Zaphir, Researcher for the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project; and Online Teacher at Education Queensland's IMPACT Centre, The University of Queensland

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it...

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas pr...

How to Have a Peaceful Retirement

Retirement is the time to treat yourself after a lifetime of working, to complete your bucket list...

Latest Wednesday Lotto Results

Wednesday Lotto draw 3917 Lucky numbers for this draw were 43 followed by 25. The rest of the...