In an age when it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify artificial intelligence (AI)-generated media, the latest decision by the social media giant Meta to begin labelling all such content on Facebook and Instagram from May should be viewed as a step to reassure users and governments over the risks of deepfakes. Meta said it will no longer remove manipulated images and audio that don’t otherwise break its rules, relying instead on labelling and contextualisation, so as to not infringe on freedom of speech. The changes come as a response to criticism from Meta’s oversight board, which independently reviews the company’s content moderation decisions.
So, depending on how much content is AI-generated, Facebook and Instagram users will see as many ‘Made with AI’ badge. Additional contextual information may be shown when content has been manipulated in other ways that pose a high risk of deceiving the public on an important issue. The move could lead to Meta labelling more pieces of content that have the potential to be misleading — important in a year of many elections taking place around the world. However, for deepfakes, Meta is only going to apply labels where the content in question has “industry standard AI image indicators,” or where the uploader has disclosed it’s AI-generated content. But, AI-generated content that falls outside those bounds will, presumably, escape unlabelled.
The change of approach may be intended to respond to rising legal demands on Meta around content moderation and systemic risk, such as the European Union’s Digital Services Act. Since last August the EU law has applied a set of rules to Facebook and Instagram that require Meta to walk a fine line between purging illegal content, mitigating systemic risks and protecting free speech. The bloc is also applying extra pressure on platforms ahead of elections to the European Parliament this June, including urging tech giants to watermark deepfakes where technically feasible.
Meta’s oversight board in February requested the social media leviathan to urgently overhaul its approach to manipulated media given the huge advances in AI and the ease of manipulating media into highly convincing deepfakes. The board’s warning came amid fears of rampant misuse of AI-powered applications for disinformation on platforms in a pivotal election year. The ‘Made with AI’ labels will identify content created or altered with AI, including video, audio, and images. Additionally, a more prominent label will be used for content deemed at high risk of misleading the public.
“We agree that providing transparency and additional context is now the better way to address this content,” Monika Bickert, Meta’s Vice-President of Content Policy, said in a blog post. “The labels will cover a broader range of content in addition to the manipulated content that the Oversight Board recommended labelling,” she added.
These new labelling techniques are linked to an agreement made in February among major tech giants and AI players to crack down on manipulated content intended to deceive voters. Meta, Google and OpenAI had already agreed to use a common watermarking standard that would tag images generated by their AI applications.
Meta said its rollout will occur in two phases with AI-generated content labelling beginning in May 2024, while the removal of manipulated media solely based on the old policy will cease in July.
According to the new standard, content, even if manipulated with AI, will remain on the platform unless it violates other Community Standards, such as those prohibiting hate speech or voter interference.
Recent examples of convincing AI deepfakes have only heightened worries about the easily accessible technology.
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