A Short History of the Audiovisual Fake

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By Data & Society Media Manipulation Researcher Britt Paris

In the summer of 2018, videos of Barack Obama giving previously unreleased addresses appeared on YouTube. The catch: These events never actually happened. University researchers had uploaded these videos to demonstrate the effective use of neural networks and generative adversarial networks to turn audio or audiovisual clips into realistic, but completely fake, lip-synced videos.

With consumer-grade apps like FakeApp and FaceSwap, you don’t need to be a computer scientist to create convincing fakes. We’re already seeing misogynist and racist GIFs of Michelle Obama performing a striptease and an antisemitic video of Adolf Hitler’s face grafted onto Mauricio Macri’s in a public speech. These artifacts belong to a rapidly growing genre of videos produced through various modes of artificial intelligence, colloquially referred to as “deepfakes.


by Media Manipulation Research Lead Joan Donovan and Research Analyst Brian Friedberg

Unite the Right 2.0 organizer Jason Kessler’s August 12 anniversary rally was an abject failure due to internal conflict in the white nationalist movement, and the unrelenting pressure of anti-racist organizing and coalitions of civil society groups determined to keep this hate from growing. …


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by Data & Society Affiliate Amelia Acker

Last week, Twitter announced that it would begin deleting millions of fake accounts that were suspended earlier this summer for abusing the platform’s terms of service. The company has framed the problem as an accuracy issue related to confidence in “follower counts” and says most Twitter users will see a drop in their followers as part of the update. …

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D&S Media Manipulation: Dispatches from the Field

Investigating the socio-technical aspects of media manipulation ranging from the social, political, economic incentives to spread disinformation.

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