Facebook bans ‘deepfakes’

Facebook announced late Monday night that it has banned manipulated videos and photos — also known as deepfakes — ahead of the 2020 election.

The move, confirmed in a blog post, was first reported by The Washington Post.

“While these videos are still rare on the internet, they present a significant challenge for our industry and society as their use increases,” Monica Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, wrote on the blog.

Bickert is set to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on deepfake technology along with experts in the field on Wednesday.

But will it satisfy critics? Facebook’s new policy explicitly does not cover parody or satire videos, or videos that omit or change the order of words. Instead, the policy focuses on videos that have been “edited or synthesized” by technology like artificial intelligence in a way that is not “apparent to an average person.”

That distinction means the new policy would likely not cover the video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that went viral last year which had been edited to make her appear intoxicated.

It also would seemingly not apply to the video clip of Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden that appeared to show Biden espousing white nationalist talking points that was heavily circulated on Twitter last week.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill hit Facebook over the rule change, tweeting that the “real problem is Facebook’s refusal to stop the spread of disinformation.”