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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.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters rallied outside fortified statehouses over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Trump to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations before leaving office

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump plans to issue at least 100 pardons and commutations on his final full day in office Tuesday, sources familiar with the matter told Axios.

Why it matters: This is a continuation of the president's controversial December spree that saw full pardons granted to more than two dozen people — including former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, longtime associate Roger Stone and Charles Kushner, the father of Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

  • The pardons set to be issued before Trump exits the White House will be a mix of criminal justice ones and pardons for people connected to the president, the sources said.
  • CNN first reported this news.

Go deeper: Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Schumer's m(aj)ority checklist

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Capitalizing on the Georgia runoffs, achieving a 50-50 Senate and launching an impeachment trial are weighty to-dos for getting Joe Biden's administration up and running on Day One.

What to watch: A blend of ceremonies, hearings and legal timelines will come into play on Tuesday and Wednesday so Chuck Schumer can actually claim the Senate majority and propel the new president's agenda.