Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Finds Self on Receiving End of Fake Video
By Sebastian Herrera
Facebook Inc. is getting its own taste of video fakery about two weeks after the company was slammed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for declining to take down a doctored video of her.
An altered video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has surfaced on the company's Instagram app, where he appears to question his company's data practices. In the video, created by Israeli advertising agency Canny AI, Mr. Zuckerberg's mouth and voice are manipulated to show the CEO briefly discussing Facebook's power in a negative tone.
"Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures," the altered Zuckerberg says above a fake caption that states Facebook is "increasing transparency on ads." The video content appears to have been taken from a 2017 video of Mr. Zuckerberg discussing Russian interference in the 2016 election.
The video, which was posted four days ago and seeks to mimic Zuckerberg's voice, had amassed more than 6,000 views as of Tuesday night. While only seconds long, the video could be one of many to come that confront Facebook's content policy and revive questions about how companies that control content online should handle misinformation.
Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Less than two weeks ago, Mrs. Pelosi criticized the social media giant for not taking down a doctored video of her that was published on Facebook. The video, which has amassed millions of views online, is deliberately slowed down to make Mrs. Pelosi seem as though she is slurring her words. YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.'s Google, removed the altered video from its platform.
At the time, Facebook said it stood by its decision not to delete the video, with global policy chief Monika Bickert telling CNN that the company had "decelerated" the video's promotion online. She said Facebook would leave it up to the people to "make their own informed choice as what to believe."
Mrs. Pelosi, however, likened the social-media company's handling of the altered video to its failure to prevent Russia's interference in the 2016 elections.
"We have said all along, 'Poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians," she said then. "I think they have proven -- by not taking down something they know is false -- that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election."
The altered video of Mr. Zuckerberg is one of several made by Canny AI. Other altered videos include those of President Trump and reality-TV star Kim Kardashian West. The website Vice earlier spotted the altered video of Mr. Zuckerberg.
The videos deploy a technology known as "deepfakes," which use machine-learning software to re-engineer people's mouths and voices in videos. Facebook, YouTube and other purveyors of user content are facing a constant barrage of digital fakery that is undermining the trust in their platforms.
Britt Paris, an artificial-intelligence researcher at Data & Society Research Institute, said ad agencies gaining access to deepfake technology demonstrate how pervasive the videos are becoming.
"We're going to have to confront the reality that you can create a deepfake video for a number of reasons," said Mary Anne Franks, a University of Miami School of Law professor who specializes in studying the technology. "It might be to defame someone or manipulate an election, but it also might be to sell a product or to make a statement. Whatever regulation we can come up with has to capture the wide-ranging spectrum of behaviors and motivations.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at Sebastian.Herrera@wsj.com