Data Driven Futures

Facebook joins Microsoft to combat deepfakes

Written by Hannah McGrath

Facebook has launched a partnership with Microsoft and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers from Oxford, UC Berkeley and MIT to combat the online phenomenon of ‘deepfakes’.

The joint project will take the form of a Deepfake Detection Challenge aimed at developing software and technologies to identify where AI has been used to alter a video in order to mislead the viewer.

An evolution of the fake news phenomenon, deepfakes involve the doctoring of video footage of people, often using sophisticated AI and graphics to impersonate them, and generate a false impression of what they are saying or doing.

The social media giant has pledged to put $10 million into funding the research, which will involve commissioning researchers to produce deepfakes to create a data set for testing detection tools.

Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer said: “The Deepfake Detection Challenge will include a data set and leaderboard, as well as grants and awards, to spur the industry to create new ways of detecting and preventing media manipulated via AI from being used to mislead others.

“This is a constantly evolving problem, much like spam or other adversarial challenges, and our hope is that by helping the industry and AI community come together we can make faster progress.”

The videos produced by the project will be released at the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) in December and will feature paid actors. No Facebook user data will be used in this data set, the company said.

Facebook will also enter the challenge, but not accept any financial prize. Other academic institutions participating include: The University of Maryland, College Park, and University at Albany-SUNY.

Hany Farid, professor of electrical engineering and computer science and the School of Information, UC Berkeley, said: “In order to move from the information age to the knowledge age, we must do better in distinguishing the real from the fake, reward trusted content over untrusted content, and educate the next generation to be better digital citizens.

“This will require investments across the board, including in industry/university/NGO research efforts to develop and operationalise technology that can quickly and accurately determine which content is authentic.”