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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Hoping to stem a forecast rising tide of faked video, Adobe, Twitter and the New York Times are proposing a new industry effort designed to make clear who created a photo or video and what changes have been made.

Why it matters: With editing tools and artificial intelligence rapidly improving, it will soon be possible to make convincing videos showing anyone saying anything and photos of things that never happened.

How it works: Adobe is proposing an opt-in system allowing creators and publishers a secure way to attach attribution data to content. Adobe could include the technology in its tools, but it would be an open standard that others could use as well. Adobe is showing a prototype today at its MAX conference in Los Angeles.

The big picture: Adobe and Twitter are not alone in seeing authentication as a key to fighting deepfakes. Among the players in the space is a startup called Truepic, which aims to create a secure path from the moment a photo or video is captured.

Thought bubbles from Axios' Kaveh Waddell:

  • This solves a small but important layer of the online trust crisis. This would allow a reader to verify that something came from Axios — but if they are skeptical of Axios to begin with, that won't matter.
  • Verification that isn't easily accessible threatens to bifurcate online information into "trusted content" from those who have the resources to verify it and an easily dismissed information underclass.

The big question: How are these companies planning to prove authenticity?

  • Most early attempts have leaned on blockchains, or decentralized lists of transactions that can't be altered. These can increase trust, but are harder to interact with.
  • The alternative is a database held by a single company — who would technically have the ability to change the entries.
  • Adobe says it hasn't finalized what mechanism it will use, saying it wants its partners to have a say.

What they're saying:

  • Adobe general counsel Dana Rao: "When it comes to the problem of deepfakes, we think the answer really is around 'knowledge is power' and transparency. We feel if we give people information about who and what to trust, we think they will have the ability to make good choices."
  • New York Times' head of R&D Marc Lavallee: “Discerning trusted news on the internet is one of the biggest challenges news consumers face today. Combating misinformation will require the entire ecosystem — creators, publishers and platforms — to work together."
  • Twitter trust and safety head Del Harvey: “Serving and enhancing global public conversation is our core mission at Twitter. Everyone has a role to play in information quality and media literacy."

What's next: Adobe plans a summit next month at its headquarters for all interested parties. "We do look at this as a shared responsibility," Rao said.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers

President Biden speaking from Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Jan. 21. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal judge in Texas blocked the Biden administration from enforcing its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal workers on Friday, citing the outcome of last week's Supreme Court ruling that nullified the administration's vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

Why it matters: It's a blow to President Biden's efforts to increase the U.S.' vaccination rates, though much of the federal workforce has already been vaccinated against the virus.