Wading through a sea of shallowfakes
Who needs deepfakes when you’ve got some basic video editing software and a bad attitude? ‘Shallowfakes’ are the latest focus of concerns around misinformation.
The Washington Post reports
on how videos have gone viral showing Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi appearing to give speeches while drunk and slurring.
The truth of the matter is the videos have been slowed down to around 75%, and her voice has been pitched back up to a natural level. The result? She appears to be drunk.
If you’ve never seen the original video, you may well believe it’s real. All you need is an ounce of prejudice against Peolsi — a fierce critic of Donald Trump — and you’ll likely believe the modified version of the video.
Case in point, yesterday Nigel Farage tweeted a photo of a Brexit Party member who had supposedly had a milkshake thrown over him (a common anti-racist protest at the moment in the UK, which Farage himself was recently a victim of). The first I saw of this incident was a tweet from someone claiming that witnesses saw the man’s friend throw the milkshake over him in an attempt to deceive the the public.
Given my personal political views, I instinctively believed the tweet that claimed the 'attack’ was a hoax to garner public sympathy. Then I realised I personally had as much evidence it was a hoax as it was a real milkshake attack.
What’s more, I realised that I couldn’t muster enough enthusiasm in the event to investigate it any further. And given that, it was probably best if I just forgot the whole thing (although there’s a compelling case it was a spilt cherry yoghurt
Still, my instinctive reaction that Farage was playing up a hoax to gain sympathy on EU elections day in the UK showed how I’d happily believe the story that fit my worldview, when presented with the flimsiest bit of evidence — a random tweet from a stranger.
Compared to that, a quickly cobbled together video that makes a politician look drunk seems like master deception.
And given, Trump has himself tweeted a video edited to make Pelosi look bad
, it’s clear that we have enough to contend with even before deepfakes are good enough to be regularly deployed as weapons of misinformation. Be careful out there.