House ethics panel warns against posting deepfakes

The House Ethics Committee is advising lawmakers against posting manipulated videos and photos on their social media accounts, warning they could face repercussions for tweets and Facebook posts that “mislead the public.”

The warning shot from the Ethics Committee, which is tasked with monitoring members’ conduct in the House, comes amid rising panic over the rise of so-called “deepfakes,” or footage that has been manipulated by artificial intelligence. “Deepfake” videos can depict people appearing to say and do things that they never did, a high-stakes prospect as the U.S. enters a contentious election year.

“Members, officers, and employees posting deep fakes or other audio-visual distortions intended to mislead the public may be in violation of the Code of Official Conduct,” the Tuesday memo from the Ethics Committee reads.

The committee did not immediately respond to The Hill’s inquiries about whether the letter is a response to any particular incident.

The memo’s warnings do not only apply to “deepfakes,” a nascent technology that necessitates a significant amount of expertise to produce. It also warns lawmakers against intentionally posting “audio-visual distortions,” which could sweep up misleadingly Photoshopped images or video footage that has been altered in any way.