January 07, 2020

Rep. Schiff Statement on Facebook’s Deepfake Policy

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released a statement in response to Facebook’s announcement of their policy to combat deepfakes and other forms of manipulated media on their platform:

“As we enter 2020, the problem of disinformation, and how it can spread rapidly on social media, is a central and continuing national security concern, and a real threat to the health of our democracy. 

“For more than a year, I’ve been pushing government agencies and tech companies to recognize and take action against the next wave of disinformation that could come in the form of ‘deepfakes’ — AI-generated video, audio, and images that are difficult or impossible to distinguish from real thing. As experts testified in an open hearing in the Intelligence Committee last year, the technology to create deepfakes is advancing rapidly and widely available, to state and non-state actors, and has already been used to target private individuals, primarily women, for abuse and harassment.

“The announcement by Facebook of this new policy which will ban intentionally misleading deepfakes from its platforms is a sensible and responsible step, and I hope that others like YouTube and Twitter will follow suit. As with any new policy, it will be vital to see how it is implemented, and particularly whether Facebook can effectively detect deepfakes at the speed and scale required to prevent them from going viral. The damage done by a convincing deepfake, or a cruder piece of misinformation, is long-lasting, and not undone when the deception is exposed, making speedy takedowns the utmost priority. I will also be focused on how Facebook deals with other harmful disinformation like so-called ‘cheapfakes,’ which are not covered by this new policy because they  are created with less sophisticated techniques but nonetheless purposefully and maliciously distort an existing piece of media. 

“I intend to continue to work with government agencies and the private sector to advance policies and legislation to make sure we’re ready for the next wave of disinformation online, including by improving detection technologies, something which the recently passed Intelligence Authorization Act facilitates with a new prize competition.”