Photo: Eduardo MunozAlvarez/VIEWpress/Corbis via Getty Images.

Lawmakers are worried about the political misuse of deepfakes — misleading images, audio, and video created by machine-learning software — and their potential impact on the midterm elections, Wired's Tom Simonite writes in "Will deepfakes disrupt the midterm election?"

Why it matters: The midterms have been deemed vulnerable to various kinds of online attack. Social media giants have been working overtime to combat fake posts related to the election, and pro-trust projects have popped up at an alarming pace.

The backdrop: Up until about a year ago, deepfakes were nothing more than an obscure term on Reddit. Now, deepfakes have made incredible advances that have made swapping faces in video more accessible to the public.

The details: A deepfake could undermine an election campaign, Wired reports. “If the target of the deepfake loses, the legitimacy of the entire election will be in question,” Yale law researcher Rebecca Crootof said.

  • Pentagon research-funding agency DARPA started a program in May to detect deepfakes, testing ideas such as watching for unnatural blinking in videos.
  • “The biggest tangible threat of deepfakes so far is the allegation that any future hot mike or covert recording of Donald Trump or any other candidate would be a deepfake,” Cameron Hickey, who researches online disinformation at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, told Wired.

So far, there's no public proof of deepfake clips being used for political disinformation. Many have used video and audio of former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump to prove a point.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 18,187,396 — Total deaths: 691,352 — Total recoveries — 10,841,436Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 4,711,323 — Total deaths: 155,379 — Total recoveries: 1,513,446 — Total tests: 57,543,852Map.
  3. Politics: White House will require staff to undergo randomized coronavirus testing — Pelosi says Birx "enabled" Trump on misinformation.
  4. Sports: 13 members of St. Louis Cardinals test positive, prompting MLB to cancel Tigers series — Former FDA chief says MLB outbreaks should be warning sign for schools.
  5. 1 🎥 thing: "Tenet" may be the first major film to get a global pandemic release.

In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.