The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced on Friday that it is making it illegal for fake news to be created with deepfake video and audio, according to Reuters. "Deepfakes" are video or audio content that have been manipulated using AI to make it look like someone said or did something they have never done. In its statement, the CAC said "With the adoption of new technologies, such as deepfake, in online video and audio industries, there have been risks in using such content to disrupt social order and violate people's interests, creating political risks and bringing a negative impact to national security and social stability," according to the South China Morning Post reporting on the new regulations. The CAC's regulations, which go into effect on January 1, 2020, require publishers of deepfake content to disclose that a piece of content is, indeed, a deepfake. It also requires content providers to detect deepfake content themselves, according to the South China Morning Post.
Deepfakes, or face-swap videos, are video or images that use machine learning to create and manipulate visuals of people or events. The most famous example is the celebrity deepfake videos which are so realistic that viewers can't tell them apart from the real thing. Deepfake is a still relatively new technology that can create highly convincing videos of people saying or doing things they never did. This has many potential uses, from the creation of realistic celebrity videos to fake news. However, it is still very early in the life of this technology and a lot of people are worried about how it can be used for evil.
The furor around deepfakes, porn videos that use machine learning to convincingly edit celebrities into sex scenes, has largely died down since many hosting sites banned the clips months ago. But deepfakes are still out there, even on sites where they're not technically allowed. Popular streaming site PornHub, which classifies deepfakes as nonconsensual and theoretically doesn't permit them, still hosts dozens of the videos. BuzzFeed's Charlie Warzel wrote on Wednesday that he'd found more than 100 deepfake videos on PornHub, and they weren't particularly well-hidden. Searches like "deepfake" and "fake deeps" brought up dozens of clips.
The social media giant is putting $10 million into the "Deepfake Detection Challenge," which aims to spur detection research. As part of the project, Facebook is commissioning researchers to produce realistic deepfakes to create a data set for testing detection tools. The company said the videos, which will be released in December, will feature paid actors and that no user data would be utilized. In the run-up to the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, social platforms have been under pressure to tackle the threat of deepfakes, which use artificial intelligence to create hyper-realistic videos where a person appears to say or do something they did not. While there has not been a well-crafted deepfake video with major political consequences in the United States, the potential for manipulated video to cause turmoil was recently demonstrated by a "cheapfake" clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, manually slowed down to make her speech seem slurred.
Deepfake videos can be fun, but not when it comes to politcs and pornography. Now, the state of California is doing something about it with two new bills signed into law last week by Governor Gavin Newsom. The first makes it illegal to post any manipulated videos that could, for instance, replace a candidate's face or speech in order to discredit them, within 60 days of an election. The other will allow residents of the state to sue anyone who puts their image into a pornographic video using deepfake technology. Deepfake videos have become more convincing as of late, especially recent ones from Ctrl Shift Face that show comedian/actor Bill Hader's face replaced by Tom Cruise.