The Zuckerberg videos are part of a series that includes deepfake videos of Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, Marina Abramović
, and Marcel Duchamp.
Aiming to tell “a cautionary tale of technology, democracy and society, curated by algorithms and powered by visitors’ data,” the installation promised to reveal untold tales of the digital influence industry, but only to viewers who “pray at the altar of Dataism with the Gods of Silicon Valley.”
The deepfake Zuckerberg videos appeared in the lead-up to Thursday’s U.S. House Intelligence Committee hearing
on deepfakes and A.I., and just weeks after Facebook refused
to take down a manipulated video of Nancy Pelosi where the house speaker appeared drunk. In response to the Pelosi footage, Facebook director of public policy Neil Potts, reportedly
said that if a deepfake appeared of Zuckerberg, they would not take it down. Posters and Howe put that hypothetical to the test.
Facebook has, historically, been notoriously hands-off when it comes to disinformation. When the manipulated video of Pelosi surfaced in May, Facebook faced backlash for simply de-prioritizing it from news feeds and pairing it with links to information on third-party sites about it being misleading.
A spokesperson from Facebook told The Verge
the company will “treat [the Zuckerberg video] the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram. [. . .] If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram's recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages.” As of Thursday, the Zuckerberg videos remain on Instagram.
While Zuckerberg’s robotic voice in the video is hardly convincing, it does the job of foreshadowing a future where videos defy reality. In recent months, anxiety around deepfakes has increased as technology to produce manipulated deepfake videos advances
and the 2020 U.S. Presidential election approaches. While applications are popping up to detect
fake videos, the tech industry appears to be headed for a fraught game of cat and mouse with far-reaching consequences.