Google, Facebook and Twitter sent letters about deepfakes by Rep. Schiff


A deepfake video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spread across the web earlier this year.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has sent letters asking Facebook, Google, and Twitter how they plan on addressing deepfakes ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Schiff’s concerns echo fears following the 2016 election in which foreign parties had successfully spread disinformation campaigns about candidates across social media platforms, according to an emailed press release Monday. 

Deepfakes are fake videos or audio recordings in which people appear to say things that never actually did, the moving-picture equivalent of bogus images created with programs like Photoshop. Deepfake software has made manipulated videos accessible and increasingly harder to detect as fake. One technique enables users to make a deepfake using a single image, such as the Mona Lisa.

“Social media companies and platforms have taken a variety of actions since 2016 to address disinformation campaigns, but I am concerned they remain unprepared and vulnerable to sophisticated and determined adversaries,” said Schiff. 

Schiff’s letter to Facebook included questions such as whether it has a written policy on deepfake content, as well as whether the social media company is conducting research into techniques for detecting the manipulated content. On the other side of the spectrum, the representative’s letter to Google asked if deepfake content is included in YouTube advertising. Lastly, to Twitter a question Schiff posed was how many views the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received.

Earlier this year, a deepfake video Pelosi in which she appeared drunk spread across the internet. Congress is already looking to investigate deepfakes following the appearance of the doctored Pelosi video amid fears that deepfakes could escalate the fake news campaign during the 2020 US presidential race.

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We’re not ready for the deepfake revolution