The last decade a lot has changed how people get to hear and see news events. The daily newspapers are in decline finding not many people interested in deep going journalism or willing to read serious and/or lengthy articles.
Half a century it took some days before news from one place reached another place somewhere far in the world. Today anything what happens somewhere is been known very quickly miles away. The news rolls in on company and personal computers, laptops or notebooks, i-pads or tablets, and cell- or smartphones. At the tip of a finger everything comes under the eyes of million watchers and often also commentators and sharers of the millions of postings.
Sometimes I am very surprised by what people seem to believe when they marvel at their little screens of their smartphone. They become very enthusiast and want to show everybody around them when something looks so special or even unbelievable. Though they know it might look unbelievable, they do not want to believe that it would not be true, or when I notice it is fake news and photoshopped material, and tell them, they say I am wrong because it is spread all over on Facebook, so it must be true.
We also can see that figures like Donald Trump will be able to continue to post edited and manipulated media as long as said media is not in the form of a paid post and Facebook or Twitter deem it somehow newsworthy.
Strangely enough in the past, Facebook was quick to stop certain links to articles on other sites. Even I got already censured by them and some others (yes even on WordPress), though there were no dirty words in the articles, and I was not offending people, except if you would call the offence, telling what had happened. From what goes on, on social media, I can only ascertain that, under the new policy of Facebook, that company does not see any harm to remove the content when it is not posted by a politician, whilst where it is posted by a politician, the manipulated content, or even real false sayings or fake news can be spread by multiplicating and sharing as if nothing.
Company spokesperson for Facebook, Andrea Vallone though promises or assures:
“For non-ads – Politicians are held to the same standards as other users when it comes to manipulated media,”
Last year Facebook earned a huge among of Euro’s and Dollars by the right wing politicians who have found in social media their best propaganda tool. In Belgium, I could see that certain messages were placed which I would have considered inappropriate or blasphemous for certain groups. Though after a few days the content had not disappeared, except for a few messages where I too clicked at it for being offensive or creating racial unrest.
Looking at what still was, and is kept on the viewable media, I wonder what could be considered “newsworthy” enough not to fall under fake news and under inflammatory language, or how we have to interpret Vallone’s saying:
“If a politician posts content that violates our manipulated media policy, we will remove the content. If the content is particularly newsworthy, we will evaluate whether it should be allowed on the platform despite the violation on a case-by-case basis.”
“Facebook said it would remove videos if it realised they had been edited in ways that weren’t obvious to an average person, or if they misled a viewer into thinking that a person in a video said words they did not actually say.”
The social media company people seem to have lots of people controlling what is said on their media and individually have to make the choice if a posting falls in one or another certain category.
Problem with the contemporary it-technology is that there are so many very good programs to manipulate or change photographic or moving pictures material that deepfakes can be as straightforward as face-swapping one actor onto another in a clip from your favourite film or picture. The last few months we could also see enough proof how easy it is to manipulate pictures and having to get people “saying certain things”. Lots of companies also jump on the trend to manipulate pictures and provide not so expensive material to do so. Any impersonator may provide audio to synced mouth movement and create an entirely new moment for that targeted individual. This Obama deepfake, voiced by Jordan Peele, is a perfect example of that usage.
Ordinary people may love to use such applications like the face-swapping mobile app Doublicat launched. Founded by artificial intelligence company RefaceAI, Doublicat is perhaps the simplest media manipulation tool yet. Users just need to download the app, snap a selfie, and choose from one of hundreds of GIFs portraying popular scenes from movies, TV shows, and the internet. Within seconds, their short, looping deepfake GIF is ready to share.
Those gadgets may be a lot of fun. Children love TikTok. But when people start coming to believe that what adults present with those gadgets, then this misleading photo’s or moving pictures become a dangerous asset.
The last few months we could see certain manipulated pictures and when the commentators also convincingly brought fake news we could see lots of people got taken away by those images. The propaganda working effectively.
Sometimes those manipulators and spreaders of fake news Tweet so much (like Trump e.g.) that one can wonder who can ever be able to read all those Tweets and to the daily tasks at the same time.
The pornographic industry also makes happily use of such gadgets and is not afraid for using simple beach- and other family photographs to reach a great amount of happy viewers all over the world. From complaints by the police and people speaking on television, we know how it doesn’t take long to see how fake pornographic videos can ruin one’s life.
Marathon Strategies CEO Phil Singer says:
“We’ve gone from worrying about sharing our personal data to now having to worry about sharing our personal images.”
His warning has to be taken serious:
“People need to be extra judicious about sharing images of themselves because one never knows how they will be used.”
For sure, the controlling organisations have to find good tools to discover the manipulated pictures. The social media companies have to explore product improvements to make their sites safer and healthier for the internet community.
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