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Why Sly Stallone keeps dying on Facebook

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In real life, Sylvester Stallone is a healthy 71-year-old. But on Facebook, he keeps dying. If his de
 
February 22 · Issue #89 · View online
The Interface
In real life, Sylvester Stallone is a healthy 71-year-old. But on Facebook, he keeps dying. If his death had been reported on a fake-news site, a fact-checker could flag the story as false, and Facebook could take steps to stop its spread. But this latest hoax, which racked up 2.5 million shares, exploited a loophole in Facebook’s content-moderation regime: images and videos are not subject to fact-checking.
In a good story on the subject today, Poynter finds frustration among Facebook’s fact-checking partners:
“For us fact-checkers, only being able to review links and not pictures, text-only posts or videos is a limitation,” Adrien Sénécat, a journalist at Le Monde’s Décodeurs, told Poynter in a message.
The problem’s impact is illustrated by the inability of fact checks to scale to the misinformation they address without the intervention of Facebook. While the Stallone death hoax had millions of shares as of publication, according to BuzzSumo, Snopes’ related debunk only had a little more than 300 shares as of publication.
Stallone is just the tip of the iceberg. In a comprehensive look at the issue today in the Journal, Georgia Wells, Shelby Holliday, and Deepa Seetharaman examine how the free rein given to images has been exploited by bad actors. They start with images shared by Russia-linked groups during the 2016 election, work backward to their mostly innocuous origins, and then trace the troll-doctored photos as they are shared to hundreds of thousands of followers.
Platforms simply haven’t built the capacity to detect these kinds of images in anything close to real time — despite the fact that images are shared on social media far more often than plan-text posts:
Tech companies can detect exact or near-exact copies of images, videos and audio for copyright enforcement. Spotting doctored photos or videos is a different challenge because tracking those changes requires keeping tabs on the original image, which isn’t always available, says Krishna Bharat, who helped create Google News and now advises and invests in startups. Running a comparative analysis can be expensive, and there are legitimate reasons someone might crop, touch-up or add a new element to a photo.
Moreover, as the piece notes, posting misinformation to Facebook isn’t even against the terms of service. (The Russian trolls’ posts were removed not because they sought to undermine our democracy, but rather because the trolls misrepresented their identities.)
In recent weeks we’ve made much here about deepfakes — video images, manipulated using artificial intelligence, that can realistically swap faces onto other bodies. The concern is that posts like these will forever blur the line between fact and fiction, making it impossible to trust digital images.
I’ve tended to dismiss that fear, in part because we’ve lived with digital image editing for so long. If the truth could survive Photoshop, doesn’t it stand to reason that it will survive AI as well? 
For its part, Facebook says it will soon let fact-checkers begin assessing images as well as article links, the Journal reported:
The company plans to expand its program for tracking and suppressing links to fake news articles to include doctored images and videos, according to a Facebook spokesman. Facebook discussed the idea earlier this month with fact-checking groups it has been working with to check news stories, along with plans to build more tools to help identify when photos are taken out of context.
I still think the truth will survive these digital manipulations. But today’s stories remind us that Photoshop absolutely can wreak havoc, and was in fact a favored tool of trolls both before and after the 2016 election. I’m glad Facebook is taking it seriously. 

Democracy
The Making of a No. 1 YouTube Conspiracy Video After the Parkland Tragedy
Florida shooting survivor David Hogg, target of online vilification, doesn’t want to ‘censor’ critics
Why Can Everyone Spot Fake News But The Tech Companies?
YouTube and Facebook Trending Tools Highlighted Parkland Conspiracy Theories
Some of those videos were still on Facebook today, though they came down eventually, Steve Kovach reported:
Steve Kovach
Back to Facebook. It seems like "David Hogg" was delisted from some forms of search results, like "Posts" Hard to tell if the hoax posts are still being shared https://t.co/xOHqZHWf2m
8:09 AM - 22 Feb 2018
Meanwhile, Facebook had a booth at the conservative leadership conference CPAC. Click through for a photo:
Kira Lerner
Facebook is setting up a booth in the CPAC exhibit hall. Two attendees just told me they saw proof on Facebook this morning that the Parkland students are crisis actors. Facebook reps here told me they’re not going to talk about that. https://t.co/vJCYLGfkBA
9:12 AM - 22 Feb 2018
Reddit cracks down on posts attacking Florida shooting survivor David Hogg
Conservative Twitter Users Lose Thousands of Followers, Mass Purge of Bots Suspected
Here Are Some Job Ads For The Russian Troll Factory
Elsewhere
Two fake news websites are trying to make an already bad flu season worse
Instagram is dissolving its global community team
What’s Brave, YouTubers’ new favorite browser?
New Report on Emerging AI Risks Paints a Grim Future
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel Got $638 Million in Year of Firm's IPO
Chicago’s Bean Is the Site of a Months-Long Meme War
Launches
Anchor’s new app offers everything you need to podcast
Sip by Product Hunt
Takes
A So-Called Expert’s Uneasy Dive Into the Trump-Russia Frenzy
And finally ...
In One Tweet, Kylie Jenner Wiped Out $1.3 Billion of Snap's Market Value
Talk to me
Questions? Comments? casey@theverge.com
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