Searching for smart, safe news you can TRUST?

Support safe, smart, REAL journalism. Sign up for our Axios AM & PM newsletters and get smarter, faster.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Original photo: Vin Cox, CC BY-SA 3.0 license. Photos b–f are derivatives of the original and licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

People think they can spot fake images. They can't. So the fake news battlefield is about to shift from text to images.

From Axios Science editor Alison Snyder: People can detect a fake image of a real-world scene only 60% of the time, and even then can only tell what is wrong with the image 45% of the time, according to research published in the open access journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.

Those findings are very different from those from a Pew study earlier this year, which found that an overwhelming majority of online users (84%) say they're confident in their ability to spot a fake news story.

Why it matters: As people get smarter about what fake news look like, fake news perpetrators are adapting their techniques from creating false news stories to manipulating real ones. This is often done with doctored headlines, images, videos and sound.

  • Visuals: A Stanford University study shows how new technologies can alter facial expressions in real time to change the context of someone's reactions. Here's an example that a technologist did on George W. Bush's facial expressions during an interview last year — pretty crazy. The Economist recently profiled ways that people with little training or experience can doctor videos in a similar fashion.
  • Audio: Axios' Ina Fried reported earlier this year that Canadian startup Lyrebird is touting technology that can mimic any voice from just 1 minute of recorded audio.
  • Headlines: A conservative group backing a Virginia gubernatorial candidate altered the headline of a local newspaper to misrepresent the truth about an opposing candidate's position, causing the post to go viral.

Our thought bubble: If big internet platforms are having a tough time regulating fake news stories on their platform, imagine the chaos of trying to monitor doctored videos and photos …

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
4 hours ago - Health

Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has picked former FDA chief David Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed, a day after unveiling a nearly $2 trillion pandemic relief plan that includes $400 billion for directly combatting the virus.

Why it matters: Biden's transition team said Kessler has been advising the president-elect since the beginning of the pandemic, and hopes his involvement will help accelerate vaccination, the New York Times reports. Operation Warp Speed's current director, Moncef Slaoui, will stay on as a consultant.

The case of the missing relief money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A chunk of stimulus payments is missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.

Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.

The post-Trump GOP, gutted

McConnell (L), McCarthy (R) and Trump. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Republicans will emerge from the Trump era gutted financially, institutionally and structurally.

The big picture: The losses are stark and substantial.