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Instagram's Mosseri On Deepfakes: 'If It Takes Too Long To Identify It...The Damage Is Done'

Instagram's Mosseri On Deepfakes: 'If It Takes Too Long To Identify It...The Damage Is Done'

In his first U.S. interview since taking over as head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri said the social media platform is trying to deal with deepfakes, but hasn't yet figured out how to find them quickly, much less what to do with them.

The Problem

Instagram, its parent company Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), and other social media companies have acknowledged that fake information put out through their platforms is something they have a duty to deal with. The interest in policing fake information took on momentum following heavy public and government criticism of the companies in the wake of fake news influencing the 2016 U.S. election.

Since then, technology has improved, and it has become clear that it’s now possible to make fake videos that often can pass for real, and with few gatekeepers determining what people can disseminate, the so-called deepfakes create a difficult threat.

No Solution Yet

In his interview on “CBS This Morning” airing on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mosseri said Instagram isn’t to the point yet where it is coming up with rules for when videos are taken down, because it hasn’t yet figured out a way to find the deepfakes quickly enough before lots of viewers see them.

Interviewer Gayle King noted Facebook didn’t take down a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that appeared to show her slurring her words, a video Pelosi and several experts said was altered for the effect. Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL)'s YouTube took the video down, but Facebook did not. The video was also widely shared on Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR).

“If it takes too long to identify it, at that point the damage is done," Mosseri said. “The thing we are focused on right now, internally, is not if we take it down when we find it, but how do you find it more quickly because if we don't, if a million people see a video like that in the first 24 hours or the first 48 hours, the damage is done.

“Right now, I think the most important thing for us to focus on is getting to the content quicker,” Mosseri said. “Once we can do that, then we can have the next debate about whether or not to take it down when we find it."

Are They Listening?

Mosseri was also asked about whether social media platforms are listening in on users through their devices. King said many people believe ads are served to them after they’ve talked about something, even if they haven’t searched for the product online.

“We don't look at your messages, we don't listen in on your microphone, doing so would be super problematic for a lot of different reasons,” Mosseri said. He said often users may simply be more likely to notice when they see an ad for a product they happen to have recently talked about, while the same ad was there before they were talking about it – but they hadn’t noticed it.

“But I recognize you're not going to really believe me," Mosseri acknowledged.

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