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Meta, Microsoft Back Disclosure for Election Deepfakes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Meta and Microsoft each announced initiatives today to address the problem of political deepfakes in upcoming elections. Microsoft has endorsed the bipartisan Protect Elections from Deceptive AI Act, which would prohibit political deepfakes. Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, released the following statement:

“The train of A.I.-supercharged disinformation and fakery is accelerating fast, aiming right for the center of election integrity, democratic functioning, and social trust. 

“Deepfakes threaten to make it impossible for people to distinguish real from fake content. They easily could swing an election. A torrent of deepfakes could destroy people’s belief in what they see with their eyes, undermining the very possibility of informed civic conversation and debate, and driving a cynicism and tribalism worse than anything we’ve yet seen.

“There’s no reason we should stand by and let this dystopian future unfold. Today’s actions from Meta and Microsoft are important steps to head off this national and global nightmare. Every social media platform should make a pledge comparable to Meta’s: to require all political advertisers to disclose if they have used A.I. to create their ads. (Google/Youtube has already adopted a similar policy.) 

“But the social media platforms – which are themselves disseminating A.I. tools – must go further. They should require all A.I.-generated content to have a disclosure. Deceptive deepfakes are more likely to impact elections if they appear ‘organically’ on social media than if they are presented in advertisements, precisely because they will carry more of an air of authenticity.

“Even more important than action by the platforms and A.I. developers is for the government to act. Microsoft has taken a bold step in endorsing legislation that gets to the heart of the political deepfake issue. Every A.I.-related corporation should follow suit and push hard for such measures. All the industry talk about ‘trust and safety’ is so much hot air if corporations’ tools undermine or destroy social trust itself.”