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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is spending six figures to fund a course on manipulated media and deepfakes for newsrooms, executives tell Axios. The course material has been developed by Reuters, and Facebook is funding its international expansion as a part of the Facebook Journalism Project.

Details: The free e-learning course, called "Identifying and Tackling Manipulated Media," seeks to help journalists globally learn how to identify photos or videos that have been altered to present inaccurate information.

  • It's available online only, and takes about 45 minutes to complete.
  • Reuters and Facebook will do events and panels in 2020 together around the course.

Be smart: Much of the course isn't focused on deepfakes specifically, but rather on the way manipulated media can be used to distort the facts. Deepfakes involve the use of artificial intelligence to create media that is doctored to look real; they are a subset of the much broader category of manipulated media, which is any media altered to change the factual record.

What they're saying: Hazel Baker, Reuters' head of user-generated content news-gathering, who created the course, says that the goal was to help newsrooms understand what they should be looking for.

  • "Ninety percent of manipulated media we see online is real video taken out of context used to feed a different narrative," says Baker, whose unit of 13 at Reuters specializes in verifying visual media. "Sometimes it's edited, but often it's not. I think that's quite an important starting point."

Between the lines: It's especially important that Reuters takes action on this topic, because the company is the world's largest multimedia news provider, says Jess April, director of strategic partnerships and program management of Reuters.

  • In total, Reuters has over 2,000+ media customers in 128 countries. It's available in 16 languages around the world.
  • The course is currently available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. It plans to expand to Burmese, Mandarin, Danish, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish and Turkish.

The big picture: Facebook has invested a lot of resources in identifying deepfakes and manipulated video, but has been criticized for the way it enforces its deepfake policies.

  • In particular, critics focused on Facebook's decision to allow a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to remain on its platform.
  • The Reuters course, ironically, uses the Pelosi video as an example of what newsrooms should be on the watch for.
  • In a statement, Julia Bain, who works on integrity partnerships at Facebook, says partnering with Reuters on the course is "an important step to help journalists spot this type of content so we can stop the spread of misinformation online.”

Go deeper: Adobe, Twitter, NYT launch effort to fight deepfakes by Axios' Ina Fried

Go deeper

Australia opposes UN report warning Great Barrier Reef is "in danger"

A green sea turtle swimming among the corals at Lady Elliot island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Great Barrier Reef should be included in a list of World Heritage Sites that are "in danger" from climate change, a United Nations committee said in a report Tuesday.

Yes, but: Australia's government said it will "strongly oppose" the recommendation by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: Abolishing filibuster would weaken "democracy's guardrails"

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) defended her opposition to abolishing the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a Washington Post op-ed published Monday night, saying to do so would weaken "democracy's guardrails."

Why it matters: There have been growing calls from Democrats, particularly progressives, to overhaul the rules as the Senate prepares to vote Tuesday on a massive voting rights package. But Sinema writes in her op-ed that if this were to happen "we will lose much more than we gain."

Court blocks California assault weapons ban repeal

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Monday blocked a judge's ruling that overturned California's 30-year assault weapons ban.

Driving the news: U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled earlier this month that the ban was unconstitutional and likened the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now granted a stay, pending appeal.