Facebook wouldn't take down edited Nancy Pelosi video under new 'deepfake' rules

Facebook "would not" take down a heavily edited video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to slur her words under its new rules that ban manipulated media, or "deepfakes," a Facebook executive said during a Wednesday congressional hearing.

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Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.) asked Facebook Vice President of Global Policy Management Monika Bicket whether Facebook would take down an edited video of Pelosi under its new deepfake ban during a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce to address manipulated media.

The video of Pelosi went viral on social media in May.

Bicker was also asked whether the Pelosi video would be labeled as "false" by Facebook's independent fact-checkers. The Facebook exec clarified that the social media site did eventually label the video as "false" after the tech giant's independent fact-checkers reviewed it.


"It was labeled as false at the time," Bicker said, adding that Facebook thinks it "could have gotten that to fact-checkers sooner."

Facebook's new deepfake ban excludes parody and satire videos that have been "heavily edited," such as the Pelosi video.

Bicker, who worked for 11 years a criminal prosecutor with the Justice Department in Chicago and Washington, D.C., announced the deepfake ban in a Tuesday blog post. as part of Facebook's ongoing effort to combat the sharing of misleading information ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Deepfake videos use complex artificial intelligence (AI) technology to manipulate video footage -- usually of a person talking -- in such a way that a person may appear to say something that he or she never actually said, which has raised concerns about the spread of misinformation ahead of the election.


"Going forward, we will remove misleading manipulated media if it meets the following criteria: It has been edited or synthesized – beyond adjustments for clarity or quality – in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say," Bickert wrote in the post.

"And: It is the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic," Bickert added.

An iPhone displays the Facebook app in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

The ban excludes parody and satire videos that have been "heavily edited." For example, Facebook refused to take down the heavily edited video of Pelosi last year.

Bickert said all media published to Facebook, "whether a deepfake or not, will be removed from Facebook if they violate any of our other Community Standards including those governing nudity, graphic violence, voter suppression and hate speech." Videos that don't meet those standards are still eligible for review by the tech giant's independent fact-checkers.

Various Facebook executives, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, have testified a number of times before Congress after the 2016 presidential election when the tech giant came under fire for misleading its users about privacy and not identifying fake accounts from around the world attempting to influence U.S. voters through ads.