Deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg presents a new challenge for Facebook


"Imagine this for a second", says the Mr Zuckerberg of the video. "If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram's recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages", a Facebook spokesperson commented.

The doctored clip was uploaded to Instagram - which is owned by Facebook - in a bid to test the company's moderation tools.

Versions of that video, though, are still on Facebook and YouTube. "Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data controls the future", the altered Zuckerberg concludes in the video.

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives said that even though the Zuckerberg video is an art piece and not actual disinformation meant to deceive, it highlights the challenges of policing content on Facebook and Instagram.

Artists Barnaby Francis, aka Bill Posters, and Daniel Howe created the brief video in collaboration with advertising firm Canny as part of their entry in the Sheffield International Documentary Festival, depicting Zuckerberg discussing the power of fictional organisation Spectre. In the clip, Zuckerberg talks about being "one man, with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures". Canny engineers told FXGuide they were inspired by the work of the creators of the Obama deepfake, and the Stanford Face2Face program.

That the creators are uploading these videos to Facebook subsidiary Instagram is notable because the company recently refused to take down altered clips of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi created to make her seem drunk or suffering the symptoms of dementia.

The quality of deepfake videos has increased dramatically and in the last month alone we have witnessed some incredible and terrifying features. The clip slows down his speech and inserts new audio.

The original clip of Zuckerberg is from a 2017 video address he delivered explaining nine steps Facebook planned to take following findings that Russian Federation interfered with 2016 US elections using Zuckerberg's social media platform.

The report said it could not be determined exactly what emails the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has requested and how many of them relate to Zuckerberg.

"They then sent us the video they chose of Zuckerberg and the video of the voice actor", Ben-Ami said, "and within less than a day our system created the video of Zuckerberg facial movement synced to the voice actor".

The final product is visually realistic, but as many, including Ben-Ami have pointed out, the voice speaking is clearly not Zuckerberg. Facebook denies removing it.

Still, even though the video isn't a flawless fake, Ben-Ami said AI and even simpler forms of editing, such as speeding up or slowing down footage, have already made it "quite difficult" for people to identify manipulated clips. It seems logical enough that the video would be taken down, wouldn't it?

"People need to know it's possible to do it", he said.