Products Enabling Misleading Information

Paul Chadwick (Guardian’s fourth readers’ editor) defines fake news as fictions deliberately fabricated and presented as non-fiction with the intent to mislead recipients into treating fiction as fact or into doubting verifiable fact. In the past two years, Facebook was criticized for facilitating Fake News that added confusion to an already dynamic presidential campaign. An analysis performed by Buzzfeed stated that the top 20 fake news stories about the 2016 U.S. presidential election received more engagement on Facebook than the top 20 news stories from major media outlets. Many organizations are working on combating fake news. Facebook has launched an effort to limit the spread and trend of these fake stories including:

  1. Stronger detection measures (algorithms)
  2. Easy reporting my users
  3. Verification/Fact checking measures
  4. Warnings
  5. Flagging false stories

BuzzFeed News identified a hub of the fake news industry with 100 sites in central VELES, Macedonia. An article featured on CBS news featured a 16 year old teen fake news expert interview. The 16 year old is making a four figure monthly revenue. He stated “You have to write what people want to see, not what you want to show”.

The newest form of Fake News is video fake news. Video and audio manipulation tools facilitate creation of realistic looking news footage, like the infamous fake Obama speech. AI (artificial intelligence) and computer graphics realistic create looking footage of public figures. The Stanford University has developed a software called Face2Face that can capture someone’s facial expressions on a webcam and then transfer these expressions to the person in a video. A team at the University of Alabama at Birmingham is  creating a synthesized speech from audio taken from YouTube videos and radio shows. Fake realistic celebrity porn videos featuring popular actresses are being created using artificial intelligence. An article on engadget by Nicole Lee explains that the videos are created with machine-learning algorithms, easily accessible with open-source libraries with Google images and YouTube videos. These users can create AI-generated pornographic clips by swapping other people’s faces onto porn stars. An app (deepfakeapp) allows tens of thousands of people to create Fake Porns, not only with celebrities, but with everyday people.

Key points:

  • Fake New definition
  • How fake news is spreading
  • Fake news in the political world (2016 presidential campaign)
  • Fake videos as the new fake news
  • Fake speeches (Obama)
  • Fake porn
  • Deep fake

In most cases generating Fake News is financially motivated or is used to spread propaganda such as the 2016 US presidential election. Even with large companies such as Facebook working on combating these fake news sources and stories a new trend has emerged fake videos (deep fakes).

These technologies will only advance over time. With the prices for computer hardware driven lower and lower access to develop these videos will be wide spread. AI in the wrong hands can be very harmful. It is unlikely that companies will be blocking misleading news. Users must be mindful of these risks on the IoT (Internet of Things). Internet might become less and less trustworthy.


Photo Credit:

Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash


Rouba Najjar


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