This Tool Allows You To Spot Fake Videos of Real People
Today wars are fought on digital battlegrounds like Facebook and Twitter. The weapons used to wage these wars don’t kill people like guns do but are equally dangerous: fake news has been reported to have influenced the 2016 US presidential election.
Three years before that, the World Economic Forum designated massive digital misinformation (i.e. fake news) as a major technological and geopolitical risk, but I guess the world needed to see it to believe it.
If fake news can cause damage at such a large scale, what about fake videos of real people?
It is possible to make fake videos of real people with the help of AI
Before 2017 faking a real person hadn’t been done yet, but it was technically possible. The journey towards making a fake video of a real person started with Google Duplex, the virtual assistant which carries out conversations in a human-like voice. The next step in this journey was to take it from audio to video. This technology development was achieved by computer scientist and Google engineer Supasorn Suwajanakorn.
As a grad student, Supasorn Suwajanakorn used AI and 3D modelling to create realistic videos of real persons synced to audio. By closely observing existing footage and photos that anyone can find on the internet, Supasorn developed a tool which mimics the way a person talks.
Watch Supasorn show how this tool works:
Reality Defender fights against fake photos and videos
As he says in his speech, Supasorn realized the ethical implications and foresaw how his tool could be used if fallen into the wrong hands.
To fight against the misuse of his tool, Supasorn created Reality Defender in collaboration with AI Foundation.
AI Foundation is a non-profit & a for-profit organization working to move the world forward with AI responsibly.
Reality Defender is intelligent software built to detect potentially fake media.
The tool is similar to virus protection, in that it scans every image, video, and other media that a user encounters when browsing the internet.
It reports of suspected fakes and runs new media through various AI-driven analysis techniques to detect signs of alteration or artificial generation.
Why is this important?
We rather expect fashion images and public person images online to be altered but we expect news images to be a snapshot of reality.
Altered news images have significant and dangerous consequences such as audience manipulation and distortion of the truth.
Remember Wag the Dog, the movie where a Hollywood producer fabricates an entire war in Albania using video and sound effects to distract the media’s attention from a Presidential crisis?
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Where is Facebook heading?
Where is Facebook heading? What problems is Facebook struggling with? What will the future bring for this tech giant and its users?
Let’s take a closer look!
Fake news – lack of responsibility
Fake news is propaganda dressed as journalism.
The 2016 US presidential election campaign wasn’t only a battle between two candidates, but a war on truth fought on Facebook by digital foreign companies. Instead of guns, these companies and entities used fake news and Facebook’s algorithm helped them get shared, liked and commented upon by millions of people.
Facing accusations regarding the widespread of fake news, Facebook said they were not a media company, but a medium, a technology platform. Many were angered by Facebook failing to take responsibility. Since then, the tech giant has tackled the situation of fake news with a changed attitude. Facebook has begun its own war on fake news but with limited success.
Brand image – Cambridge Analytica and #deletefacebook
Earlier this year, several American and British newspapers and news channels broke reports on how Cambridge Analytica played a role in harvesting and misusing private and personal information from more than 50 million Facebook users. Their conclusion: the data breach was one of the largest in the history of Facebook.
These reports claim the political data firm accessed private Facebook user data and then used that information to target ads that supported Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and influenced the outcome of the UK Brexit referendum. The Cambridge Analytica scandal has taken its toll on Facebook – it lost over a $100 billion in market capitalization.
Many cried out “manipulation”, “breach of trust” and felt that Facebook’s reputation has been harmed. The #deletefacebook movement initiated on Twitter has gained momentum in recent weeks as a way for people to fight against Facebook. Many public figures and personalities have joined the movement and deleted their Facebook accounts: Brian Acton (founder of WhatsApp), Steve Wozniak, Elon Musk, singer Cher, actors Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell and Susan Sarandon.
GDPR – giving back the power to the social media user
The GDPR is a set of standardised data protection laws that come into effect on May 25th 2018 across all EU countries.
How will GDPR affect Facebook?
Under GDPR rules, Facebook will be forced to limit its targeting capabilities.
A study conducted by researchers at the Charles III University of Madrid found that
73% of Facebook’s European users were targeted by marketers based on the use of characteristics that will be illegal under GDPR.
The new regulations forbid companies from processing data on race, ethnicity, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership or sexual orientation without active consent. Because many of Facebook’s current data collection policies are in breach of Europe’s new privacy rules, its ability to sell advertising based on targeted user information is under threat.
Also Facebook is expecting the European user count to flat or go down, but Facebook CFO David Wehner said they were confident they will “continue to build a great ads business”.
Currently there are 2 billion people on Facebook, with a reported 13% increase in users in Q1 of this year. It’s safe to say the giant tech company is here to stay.
But it’s up to Mark and his team to learn from past mistakes.
In order to keep being successful, Facebook needs to come up with new features and innovative products that serve user interests.
It also needs to find new ways to attract advertising money while being compliant with GDPR rules (only for European users).
Here is Facebook acknowledging the past and preparing for the future:
Meet the founder of FightHoax | Behind the Suit
Valentinos started his very own mobile app startup and developed it all by himself at the age of 18. Magazines such as Forbes say that he has the ‘mark of a true entrepreneur’.
He is a proud awardee of the 25Under25 title of the Internet Society organization. Valentinos has talked numerous times at the Greek Parliament, the European Parliament, South by SouthWest, London School of Economics and various entrepreneurship events all around the world.
Now, at the age of 20, Valentinos created the angel-invested FightHoax, in order to reduce the mass misinformation spread and empower news analysis and data journalism with Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.
MEET THE FOUNDER & CEO OF FIGHTHOAX.COM
1. How you came up with the business idea for FightHoax.com?
The US elections got the world shaken up. Hoaxes started to emerge from everywhere. Macedonian teenagers started their own fake news outlet and earned thousands from it. We hit all-time high records so I was really disturbed by all these hoaxes and fake facts.
People tend to believe anything nowadays.
So, one day I sat down and said to myself:
“Can I create something that analyses what you are reading and extracts the important points to the user?”
“Can I build an automated algorithm to answer if what you are reading is real or just false?”
At first, it seemed really-really impossible. Even humans can’t agree on what is false or true. But I realized that machines with no feelings can judge some aspects better than humans. For example, what if the website which is hosting the news article has a suspicious history and is known for posting fake news? Human tend to ignore hoaxes that agree with their own beliefs.
2. Tell us the first three things you’ve done to turn the idea into facts.
First, I locked myself in my house for more than 13 days, just to fix a bug. At first, I talked to more than 100 journalists, fact checkers, developers and academic teachers just to ask them questions about media literacy, fake news, propaganda and more.
Work, work, work.
3. Name one situation that made you want to quit.
As I had described before, one single bug made me go nuts and stay in the house for more than 13 consecutive days. It was crazy. I get obsessed with things like this!
4. Name one situation that made you want to go forward.
My girlfriend. I have hidden a comment in my code that’s just about her, to remind her the help she gave me.
5. What do you think are the most difficult challenges entrepreneurs have to face on greek market nowadays?
Misery. Misery is a lot worse than poverty and I can’t really stand it. Most of the people have given up on fighting for a better future, here in Greece. It is time to change that!
6. Investment matters. If you would invest in something else but your actual business. What would that be?
I would invest in people with great attitude and big goals in life. I am going for the long-term goals in my life.
7. What is FightHoax.com bringing to the mobile development market, that is different compared its competitors?
FactMata is a cross-checking algorithm that it can ONLY verify statistical/numerical facts. Static databases and community users manually score facts. Wikitribune is like Factmata but without the tech element. Community users and journalists manually verify news stories.
FightHoax is the only startup doing full News Analysis and can detect fake news articles with an accuracy of 89%. Any article, any fact. We provide a rounded perspective, not a fake. Imagine that in Google’s hands.
MEET THE MAN #BEHINDTHESUIT
1. Name one good habit that helps you deal with your active life.
Listening to music for hours. I have to spend a lot of hours on my own just to meditate and talk to myself. In this way, I keep myself focused and I “clean” the bad thoughts.
2. Name one bad habit you can’t quit.
I eat a lot of fast-food. On the other hand, I do love walking, swimming, skiing and playing tennis but I need to hit the gym, too.
3. If you could be anything else but an entrepreneur what would you be?
I would love to be an artist and a musician but just for myself. I love expressing myself, deeply.
4. You are the founder of FightHoax.com, what is the favourite movie of the man who founded it?
A beautiful mind. I really love movies inspired by real-life scenarios of genius people that wrote history.
5. Tell us your favourite book. What’s the best thing you learned from it?
The first book that I have ever read was a book about hacking called “XSS Attacks“. It completely changed my view of the Internet, back when I was just 15.
6. Name the most important value that you believe in.
In a company, your business partners come first. They have to be happy in order to feel happy on your own.
7. If you could compare your journey as an entrepreneur with a song what song would you choose?
8. Tell us the best experience you had while working to build FightHoax.com.
Working with a great team is the best part of being in business. I was lucky enough to find great partners to work with me and every meeting or beer is just priceless.
9. If you would give our readers one piece of advice from your entrepreneurial experience, what would that advice be?
Get ready to risk everything, stand on your own and become homesick. It is an interesting journey that many do not get through these obstacles.