Zuckerberg deepfake video tests Facebook's rules

Can you tell this video is fake?

Bill Posters/Daniel Howe/Canny
  • A new deepfake video shows Mark Zuckerberg saying words he never spoke.
  • The video was likely created in an attempt to challenge Facebook's policies on fake content.
  • Facebook was recently criticized for not removing a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to make it seem like she was drunk.


A new deepfake video shows Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg saying words he never spoke.

The video – posted to Instagram and created by artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe with advertising company Canny – was based off of a real video of Zuckerberg from 2017. To create the deepfake, Canny trained a proprietary algorithm on a 21-second clip from the 2017 video, and also on a video of a voice actor reading a script. Visually, the result is convincing, even if the voice doesn't quite sound like Zuckerberg's.

"Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures," Zuckerberg's likeness says in the video, whose caption includes "#deepfake". "I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future."

(Spectre was an award-winning interactive art installation shown at the 2019 Sheffield Doc Fest in the United Kingdom.)

The video effectively tests Facebook's policy on removing misinformation from its platform. Facebook recently faced backlash for refusing to remove a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down to make it seem like she was drunk. Facebook said it down-ranked the video to make it appear less frequently on newsfeeds and flagged it as fake.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, said it'd treat the Zuckerberg deepfake like the Pelosi video. "If third-party fact checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram's recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages," Stephanie Otway, a spokeswoman for the company, told the New York Times.

The team behind the Zuckerberg deepfake also created one of Kim Kardashian.

Deepfake technology has existed for years, but recently it's become sophisticated enough to fool some unsuspecting viewers. In May, Samsung researchers published a video describing a new AI that can take a single image of a person's face and animate it convincingly. If you're concerned about people weaponizing this technology, you're not alone: The Defense Department is already developing tools that aim to automatically detect deepfakes. But these tools might never be totally effective.

"Theoretically, if you gave a [generative adversarial network, which builds deepfake technology] all the techniques we know to detect it, it could pass all of those techniques," David Gunning, the DARPA program manager in charge of the Defense Department project, told MIT Technology Review. "We don't know if there's a limit. It's unclear."

Even if we could detect deepfakes, some viewers might not be eager to differentiate between real and fake – especially in politics. For example, President Donald Trump recently tweeted an altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down to make it seem as if she were drunk. The video remains on the president's Twitter account, despite reports confirming the video was altered, and it currently has more than 6 million views. It's unclear how many people know – or are willing to acknowledge – that it's fake content.

A still from the film "We Became Fragments" by Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller, part of the Global Oneness Project library.

Photo: Luisa Conlon , Lacy Roberts and Hanna Miller / Global Oneness Project
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
  • Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
  • Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Keep reading Show less

The Universe Shouldn’t Exist, CERN Scientists Announce

BASE particle physicists have discovered a very precise way to examine antimatter.

The Veil Nebula. Credit: By Jschulman555 - Own work, Wikipedia Commons.
Surprising Science

Thank your lucky stars you’re alive. It’s truly a miracle of nature. This has nothing to do with spirituality or religion and everything to do with science. Life itself may not be the miracle. Although we haven’t found it elsewhere yet, our galaxy alone is so replete with Earth-like planets that, mathematically speaking, one of them must hold life, even if it’s just the microbial variety. Intelligent life may be another matter.

Keep reading Show less

Ashamed over my mental illness, I realized drawing might help me – and others – cope

Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.

Photo by JJ Ying on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.

Keep reading Show less

Sexual activity linked to higher cognitive function in older age

A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.

The results of this one-of-a-kind study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men.
Image by Lightspring on Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
  • The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
  • The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…