A Guide to Fake News and the 2020 Election

Picture this. You’re standing at the voting booth, you’ve made sure your voter registration is up to date and you’ve done extensive research on which candidate you’ll cast the ballot for. But then something happens. As the ballot flashes into your line of sight, you see a name that you can’t help but associate with a scandalous video that was shared on social media a few months prior. 

This is the phenomenon that many American voters faced during the 2016 presidential election and may face again in electing the next POTUS. Are voters and the general public being maliciously swayed one way or another by fake news? And how can those voters survive the advent of deepfake content? Most of all, what does this mean for the 2020 presidential election?

Fake news has become a buzzword. It has swept news outlets across the world and become part of our everyday language. Typically referring to news stories that are twisted for political figures’ personal gain, this so called “fake news” has often been amplified by the further development of AI manipulated video content. This fabricated video content (as seen below) takes clips and often audio from other sources and layers them together. This results in a seemingly realistic image that is entirely composed of machine-manipulated material.

Youtube player on a tablet

Deepfakes and the Social Media Takeover

In late spring 2019, a video shared on social media of the United States House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, was retouched to make Pelosi appear to slur her speech This yielding questions about her health from viewers while in reality, Pelosi answered interview questions with clarity and directness.

Social media has become a primary source of domestic and international news. The Pew Research Center has reported that 83% of adults in the United States get some portion of their news from a social media platform. This means that 83% of Americans, regardless of their political affiliation, are at risk for consuming news that may not be entirely truthful.

Deepfake example

When compounded with the power and prevalence of social media use, manipulated content presents a major danger. Misinformation spreads like wildfire and consumers don’t know real content from machine-manipulated content – creating a new form of propaganda and a unique kind of cyberwarfare.

How to Be Aware of Fake News in 2020

Anyone with access to devices, such as smartphones, tablets and computers, is just a few clicks away from discovering non-credible news.

Don’t be subject to malicious election interference. As 2020 fast approaches, voters should look to familiar, credible sources in preparation for the election to eliminate the risk of making misinformed decisions. If a piece of content you come across on social media is remotely questionable, be quick to question its validity and slow to share it with friends and followers. 

Instagram screenshot

So, with these newer technical advances, should social media platforms be required to protect consumers and voters from manipulated content online? That’s the million dollar question. Some may argue that these platforms lack the capability, sophistication or even desire to do so.

The Filestack Method

As voting season nears, it’s imperative to look to organizations that seek to thoroughly understand the content within an image or video before posting or promoting it. At Filestack, we’re doing just that. The Filestack intelligence stack uses custom machine learning models to ingest content and apply intelligent processing parameters to help understand content before it ever goes online.

Don’t be blindsided by the political content that you consume. Even more importantly, don’t hesitate to question its validity. With rises in the power of technology, you can never be too certain of the content you find online.

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