Facts Matter: Manipulated Zuckerberg clip a deepfake video

  • A video featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was manipulated to appear he said he owed everything to SPECTRE, the fictional sinister organization in the James Bond novels and films.

    A video featuring Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was manipulated to appear he said he owed everything to SPECTRE, the fictional sinister organization in the James Bond novels and films. Associated Press/May 10

 
 
Updated 6/15/2019 4:23 PM

A recent clip of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking about "billions of people's stolen data" is actually a deepfake, a video in which a person's likeness has been manipulated to appear to be saying something the person didn't, according to PolitiFact.com.

In the video, Zuckerberg appears to say, "Imagine this for a second: One man with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures, I owe it all to SPECTRE. SPECTRE showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future." SPECTRE is a fictional sinister organization in James Bond novels and films.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The deepfake video, showing Zuckerberg above a CBSN news banner, was created by artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe and was posted on Instagram as part of an art installation called Spectre, PolitiFact said.

The original clip of Zuckerberg is from a 2017 video address, according to PolitiFact. That video and another of the audio are used by Canny AI, one of the technology startups involved in the project, with technology for video dialogue replacement, Omer Ben-Ami, co-founder of Canny AI, told PolitiFact.

Ben-Ami said a voice actor is selected to read a script. He said the company's proprietary AI "then trains on both videos and learns to reconstruct each facial movement of the actor," according to PolitiFact.

"Within less than a day, our system created the video of Zuckerberg's facial movement synced to the voice actor," Ben-Ami said.

Not everyone is fooled by the deepfake.

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"This is not a particularly good fake and there are clear artifacts on the audio and video," Hany Farid, a professor of computer science and digital forensics expert at the University of California, Berkeley, told PolitiFact.

"I believe that the Instagram video is a so-called lip sync deepfake in which Zuckerberg's mouth has been resynthesized to be consistent with a new audio track," he said.

Bette Midler and President Donald Trump sparred via social media after she tweeted a quote misattributed to him.
Bette Midler and President Donald Trump sparred via social media after she tweeted a quote misattributed to him. - Associated Press/April 30
Midler retweets wrongly attributed quote

A false quote attributed to President Donald Trump, dating back to 2015, resurfaced recently after it was shared by singer and actress Bette Midler, according to The Associated Press.

The fake Trump statement claims to be from a 1998 People magazine interview: "If I were to run, I'd run as a Republican. They're the dumbest group of voters in the country. They believe anything on Fox News. I could lie and they'd still eat it up. I bet my numbers would be terrific."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The quote was reposted by Midler on her Twitter account earlier this month, AP said. After learning it was false, she apologized and deleted the post.

The quote has been widely shared and widely debunked since it began circulating on social media, AP said. People magazine spokeswoman Julie Farin told AP the publication has investigated the statement but could not find an instance in which the president said anything remotely like it.

Trump responded by tweeting that Midler is "a washed up psycho," AP said.

Rocker Ted Nugent shared a video that misidentified Muslim scholar Sharifa Alkhateeb as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaid.
Rocker Ted Nugent shared a video that misidentified Muslim scholar Sharifa Alkhateeb as U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaid. - Associated Press/Oct. 17, 2018
Nugent misidentifies subject of video

Michigan rocker Ted Nugent recently posted a video featuring a Muslim woman calling for the Islamic faith to be spread across America.

"Listen very closely to the new congresswoman from Michigan what the enemies of America believe especially on Memorial Day so we don't let them continue to destroy the wonderful American system of individual freedom that so many died for," Nugent wrote, along with the post, apparently referring to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the recently elected congresswoman from Michigan.

But the person in the video is not Tlaib, according to FactCheck.org. It's Muslim scholar Sharifa Alkhateeb, who died in 2004.

The film clip of Alkhateeb, founder of the North American Council for Muslim Women, is from a 1989 Muslim Americans Political Awareness Conference. Tlaib was just 13 years old at the time of that speech.

The miscaptioned video has been shared 100,000 times and racked up 2.8 million views, according to FactCheck.org.

President Donald Trump repeatedly has said he holds a record approval rating among Republicans. He doesn't.
President Donald Trump repeatedly has said he holds a record approval rating among Republicans. He doesn't. - Associated Press/June 14
Trump doesn't hold popularity record

President Donald Trump recently claimed he had "tremendous Republican support."

"I have a 90% -- 94% approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party," Trump said during a June 4 news conference in London. "That's an all-time record."

In fact, on 14 different occasions, Trump has claimed to have the record Republican approval rating, according to The Washington Post.

Although it's unclear which poll Trump is referring to, the Post said, he was at 90% approval in Gallup polls released in February and May.

But that's below the 99% Republican approval George W. Bush achieved following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Post said. Bush mostly stayed above 96% in Gallup Polls for the next two years.

His father, George H.W. Bush, topped out at 97% approval in 1991 following the Persian Gulf War, according to the Post.

Ronald Reagan received 94% approval in 1984, Richard Nixon achieved a high of 91% in 1973 and Dwight Eisenhower was at 95% Republican approval in 1956.

That gives Trump the sixth highest approval rating among post-World War II Republican presidents.

• Bob Oswald is a veteran Chicago-area journalist and former news editor of the Elgin Courier-News. Contact him at boboswald33@gmail.com.

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