All Misinformation stories

May 30, 2019 - Technology

Russian misinformation campaigns target health fears

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Russian efforts to sow discord ahead of the 2020 elections appear focused on fear-mongering around health care issues.

Why it matters: Misinformation online can have real-world health and safety repercussions.

We live in a "fake" world

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Welcome to our sad, new, distorted reality — the explosion of fake: fake videos, fake people on Facebook, and daily cries of "fake news."

Driving the news: This week we reached a peak fake, with Facebook saying it had deleted 2.2 billion fake accounts in three months, a fake video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi going viral, and Trump going on a fresh "fake news" tear.

Altered Pelosi video spreading on social media

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty

An altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that shows her speaking slowly as if drunk is spreading on social media.

Why it matters: The clip, which appears to have been slowed to make Pelosi's speech sound slurred, has found traction on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, highlighting how easily even the simplest manipulated media can mushroom on social platforms.

Joe Rogan finds his synthetic voice

Comedian Joe Rogan has said all sorts of things on his popular, freewheeling podcast. But he probably hasn't said this: "Now that we have deepfakes and fake voices, I'm starting to believe that we're not far off from simulations after all."

What's happening: You can now hear him intone those words in his distinctive Rogan way right here.

Selfies with Salvador Dalí

Dalí in Barcelona. Photo: Jack Mitchell/Getty

Thirty years after his death, Salvador Dalí wants to take a photo with you.

What’s happening: In a Florida museum dedicated to the surrealist’s life, a new installation reanimates him in an interactive AI-altered video, or deepfake, The Verge’s Dami Lee reports.

Deepfakes for good

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

What do you do with a technology that could restore the voices of people who have lost theirs — but also sow chaos and incite violence?

What's happening: A growing group of companies are walking this tightrope, betting they can deploy deepfakes — videos, audio and photos that are altered or generated by AI — as a force for good, or at least non-malign purposes, while keeping the technology away from those who would use it to do harm.

Apr 25, 2019 - Technology

Startup behind David Beckham deepfake video raises $3.1 million

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Synthesia, a London-based developer of video synthesis technology, raised $3.1 million co-led by LDV Capital and Mark Cuban.

Why it matters: This is the company whose tech is behind a viral video in which soccer star David Beckham speaks nine different languages. As you might have guessed, David Beckham doesn't know how to speak nine different languages, and the video is for malaria awareness, not some sort of Rosetta Stone-like product. It's both mesmerizing and terrifying.

Defending against audio deepfakes before it's too late

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech, top university labs and the U.S. military are pouring effort and money into detecting deepfake videos — AI-edited clips that can make it look like someone is saying something they never uttered. But video's forgotten step-sibling, deepfake audio has attracted considerably less attention despite a comparable potential for harm.

What's happening: With video deepfakes, defenders are playing the cat to a fast-scurrying mouse: AI-generated video is getting quite good. The technology to create audio fakes, by contrast, is not as advanced — but experts say that's soon to change.

An AI-generated Ellen DeGeneres voice is the future of deepfakes

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

If you want to make a video deepfake, you can download free software and create it yourself. Someone with a bit of savvy and a chunk of time can churn out side-splitters like this one. Not so for audio deepfakes — at least not yet. Good synthetic audio is still the domain of startups, Big Tech and academic research.

What's happening: Pindrop, the audio biometrics company, is developing synthetic voices in order to train its own defenses to detect them. Vijay Balasubramaniyan, Pindrop's CEO, shared several fake voices with Axios.

2020's homegrown fake news crisis

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

New reports shows ways that fake news is hiding in plain sight in America, and how it's getting harder to track in real time.

Driving the news: An investigation by fact-checking company Snopes finds that a series of seemingly innocuous local websites, first reported last year by Politico, are being run by GOP consultants whose businesses are funded in part by candidates the websites cover.