(High School Insider)
Los Osos High School

Opinion: Seeing is not believing

In a society where we are taught “seeing is believing,” Mark Zuckerberg saying he has total control of billions of people’s data go viral. Except, none of those things happened, and while logically many of us could arrive at that conclusion, videos like these have amassed millions upon millions of views.

Deepfakes are “realistic AI-generated audio, video, and images, designed with a machine learning algorithm,” according to Medium. As AI advances, these deep fakes have become seemingly more and more realistic and have become a readily usable tool for all. And whether we’d like to admit it or not, social media has become the main source of news for many people.

As these deep fakes spread across social media platforms manipulating people’s minds, they silence the actual truth, reduce faith in institutions/media and weaken our democracy. Therefore, it is essential that social media platforms take responsibility for removing deep fakes.

If a celebrity makes an inappropriate statement, people tweet at them, make a #[blank]IsOverParty hashtag and although some may disagree with the way it has gone about, public accountability has increased with the rise of social media. With the rise of deep fakes, people now have the ability to dismiss any claim against them as a fake, by simply dismissing the truth.

For example, when Trump was caught on tape making vulgar comments about women on “Access Hollywood” he could have easily called it a fake, and we all would have had to move on, according to Medium.

Hany Farid, Professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Digital Forensics Expert told CNN: “It’s not just that we have to protect against the fakes, but we also have to protect against things that actually happened.”

Protecting the truth is the key importance of why deep fakes need to be removed by social media platforms. Moreover, we are on a short road to a destroyed democracy and fraudulent elections.

The Brookings Institution summarized the dangers as damaging democratic discourse, elections being manipulated, eroding trust in institutions, etc.

The pillars that uphold our democratic system will entirely collapse if we allow for the circulation of these videos on platforms. Although many will not be fooled by these videos, our uncertainty about all media will increase.

In a research study, 2,005 participants watched the Obama calling Trump a dips— video and were told to answer with whether or not they believed it. The results showed that 50% of subjects were not fooled, while 16% were and 32% were uncertain if it was true or not.

This directly proves that while it may only deceive a small portion of people, many people will be uncertain about all news, decreasing the faith in institutions and the media.

Social media platforms need to be held reliable for the misinformation spread on their platform and therefore it is necessary that they remove all deep fakes because of its threat to our society by silencing the truth, weakening the power of media/institutions, and corroding our democracy.

Our democratic system relies on factual information for all citizens to participate in a fair election and political discourse. When the truth becomes indistinguishable and our own eyes can be deceived, it is necessary for a change.