Nov 4, 2018

4. What we're reading: Deepfakes vs. the midterm elections

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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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 766,336 — Total deaths: 36,873 — Total recoveries: 160,001.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 153,246 — Total deaths: 2,828 — Total recoveries: 5,545.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Rep. Nydia Velázquez diagnosed with "presumed" coronavirus infection.
  4. State updates: Virginia and Maryland issued stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states — Florida megachurch pastor arrested for refusing to call off mass services.
  5. World updates: Italy reports 1,590 recoveries from the virus, its highest ever.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo: Engaging in politics during coronavirus crisis is "anti-American"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a Monday press briefing that he won't get into a political tussle with President Trump — calling it "counterproductive" and "anti-American" — as his state deals with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.

The backdrop: Trump said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier Monday that Cuomo has received high polling numbers during the outbreak because New York has received federal aid.

Maryland and Virginia issue coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, with exceptions for residents engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: The states are the latest to announce policies to enforce social distancing, which have affected almost 250 million Americans. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide had been asked to stay home as of last week.

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