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Big Revolution - Wading through a sea of shallowfakes

Welcome to Friday's newsletter. Due to a couple of projects being pushed back to mid-June, Big Revolu
May 24 · Issue #428 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s newsletter. Due to a couple of projects being pushed back to mid-June, Big Revolution currently has capacity for content writing/editing and proposition development work with tech companies. Hit reply to this email if we can help you.
— Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Amazon is working on a wearable device that can detect human emotions, Bloomberg reports. The wrist-worn, voice-controlled device is reportedly focused on the user’s health, but there’s no word on whether it will ever be launched to the public.
  • Facebook’s cryptocurrency is codenamed ‘GlobalCoin,’ and could be rolled out in 12 countries by next spring, the BBC reports. Mark Zuckerberg has apparently already discussed it with the governor of the Bank of England.
  • Some Snap employees spied on Snapchat users’ data using internal tools before access was restricted, Vice reports.
  • Google now lets American users order meal delivery through Search, Maps, and Assistant. The feature is a collaboration with services like Postmates and DoorDash.
The big thought
The Washington Post compared original and doctored videos of Nancy Pelosi
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.
One big read
'Mind control': The secret UK government blueprints shaping post-terror planning 'Mind control': The secret UK government blueprints shaping post-terror planning
A fascinating look at how authorities in the UK steer the public towards positive behaviour after terror attacks.
One big tweet
Robin’s joking about the UK’s soon-to-be-former Prime Minister, but let’s be honest — it wouldn’t be surprising, as everyone else is doing it.
Robin Wauters
Rumor has it Theresa May is starting a small £30 million seed fund in London to “invest in bold startup entrepreneurs in the UK and Europe tackling the world’s biggest challenges” and that she’s “excited about the opportunity to help shape the future through technology."
10:14 AM - 24 May 2019
That’s all for today...
Back tomorrow with your good weekend reads. Monday’s a UK public holiday, so after tomorrow we’ll see you in your inboxes on Tuesday.
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