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Schiff Welcomes Facebook’s New ‘Deepfakes’ Policy, Wants Other Platforms to Follow

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This week, Facebook announced a new policy to combat so-called “deepfakes” and other forms of manipulated media on their platform.

The social media site announced that it will remove misleading manipulated media that violate two new community standards. One, if “it has has been edited or synthesized – beyond adjustments for clarity or quality – in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say.” The second criteria is if the video “is the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic.”

There is a big exception that could let quote a few videos through the cracks, and which is the loophole through which a lot of fake news makes it onto the platform. The new policy does not extend to content that is parody or satire, or video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words. 

Videos that don’t meet these standards for removal are still eligible for review by one of Facebook’s independent third-party fact-checkers.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement in response to Facebook’s announcement:

“As we enter 2020, the problem of disinformation, and how it can spread rapidly on social media, is a central and continuing national security concern, and a real threat to the health of our democracy. 

“For more than a year, I’ve been pushing government agencies and tech companies to recognize and take action against the next wave of disinformation that could come in the form of ‘deepfakes’ — AI-generated video, audio, and images that are difficult or impossible to distinguish from real thing. As experts testified in an open hearing in the Intelligence Committee last year, the technology to create deepfakes is advancing rapidly and widely available, to state and non-state actors, and has already been used to target private individuals, primarily women, for abuse and harassment.


“The announcement by Facebook of this new policy which will ban intentionally misleading deepfakes from its platforms is a sensible and responsible step, and I hope that others like YouTube and Twitter will follow suit. As with any new policy, it will be vital to see how it is implemented, and particularly whether Facebook can effectively detect deepfakes at the speed and scale required to prevent them from going viral. The damage done by a convincing deepfake, or a cruder piece of misinformation, is long-lasting, and not undone when the deception is exposed, making speedy takedowns the utmost priority. I will also be focused on how Facebook deals with other harmful disinformation like so-called ‘cheapfakes,’ which are not covered by this new policy because they  are created with less sophisticated techniques but nonetheless purposefully and maliciously distort an existing piece of media. 

“I intend to continue to work with government agencies and the private sector to advance policies and legislation to make sure we’re ready for the next wave of disinformation online, including by improving detection technologies, something which the recently passed Intelligence Authorization Act facilitates with a new prize competition.”

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Celebrity News

Amber Heard Uses American Sign Language at Women’s March

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LOS ANGELES (TMZ) — Amber Heard is about as talented and passionate as they come, which was on full display this weekend during the Women’s March … where she showed off her ASL.

The actress was one of many celebs who showed up in L.A. Saturday for the fourth annual event — which got started back in 2016 when President Trump was elected. Amber got on stage at one point and gave a heartfelt speech about her role in the fight.

Check it out … while she never outright says his name, it sounds like some of what she’s talking about here might be touching on her marriage to Johnny Depp … which ended in a long, nasty legal battle where allegations of lies and abuse were made.

After talking to the crowd, Amber shared a sweet moment with a fan on the ground … who spoke to her in sign language. Turns out, she’s fluent in ASL — and it definitely shows.

BTW, we also got Amber arriving in an SUV and asked about her injured foot — which has been straddled with a brace for a few weeks now after a trip to Hawaii. She joked sharks had gotten a hold of her, and when we asked if she was serious … she shot a knowing look.

It also appears she’s moved on to a new significant other in the new year … cinematographer Bianca Butti, who had Amber by the hand as they made their way into the festivities.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)


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Human Rights

Border Patrol Officials Dodged Congress’ Questions About Migrant Children’s Deaths

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Border Patrol Officials Dodged Congress’ Questions About Migrant Children’s Deaths

by Robert Moore for ProPublica

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Trump administration sought to “conceal information” about the death of a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy in Border Patrol custody, a House subcommittee chairwoman said at a hearing Tuesday.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., said the Department of Homeland Security has “consistently failed to maintain transparency by stymieing congressional inquiries. This raises concerns that they are hiding serious issues with management, in addition to the leadership vacancies at the top of the department. One example of this is the department’s decision to conceal information on the death of Carlos Hernandez Vasquez.”

Rice chairs the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation and Operations, which had a Tuesday hearing to examine DHS efforts to prevent child deaths in custody. Six migrant children died in government custody between September 2018 and May 2019, the first such deaths in a decade.

Much of the hearing focused on Carlos, who died on May 20 in a Border Patrol cell in Weslaco, Texas. A ProPublica investigation in December, which included video of Carlos’ last hours and death, raised questions about his treatment by Border Patrol agents and contracted medical workers as his condition deteriorated.

“Despite information requests by this committee, it was not until a ProPublica report was released seven months later that Congress and the public learned more about what happened to Carlos, that his death may have been caused by the failure to provide urgently needed medical care and the failure to follow the most basic procedures to simply check on a sick child,” Rice said in her opening statement.

Two high-ranking Homeland Security officials testified at the hearing, but neither responded to Rice’s criticism. The two officials — Border Patrol Chief of Law Enforcement Operations Brian Hastings and DHS Senior Medical Officer Dr. Alex Eastman — used their opening statements to stress the unprecedented nature of the surge of families and unaccompanied children at the border last year.

They said DHS quickly scaled up medical care for migrants at the border following the deaths of two children in December 2018, using medical professionals from the Coast Guard, Public Health Service and private contractors. Eastman said the surge of migrant families and children was “an unconventional problem that required an unconventional solution.”

Under questioning from Rice, Hastings said the video of Carlos’ death revealed by ProPublica was “troubling” but sidestepped questions about his death because of an ongoing investigation by the DHS Office of Inspector General.

Hastings described one change in “welfare checks” made in the wake of Carlos’ death. Records obtained by ProPublica showed that a Border Patrol agent logged three welfare checks on Carlos in the four hours he was lying on the floor of his cell, dying or dead. The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Carlos told ProPublica that the agent looked through a window but didn’t enter the cell.

In July, then-Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders ordered that “any subject in our custody” receive welfare checks every 15 minutes and be documented in the system, Hastings said.

Hastings’ word choice drew a sharp rebuke from Rice.

“You mean person, not subject, in your custody. Because that’s what they are. They’re people, not subjects,” Rice said.

“Person, yes ma’am,” Hastings said.

Inside the Cell Where a Sick 16-Year-Old Boy Died in Border Patrol Care

Rice and other Democrats criticized reports released last month by the DHS inspector general into the deaths of two Guatemalan children in Border Patrol custody in December 2018. The reports found no wrongdoing by agents in the deaths of Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8.

“Publicly available summaries of these investigations are extraordinarily narrow in scope. They focus only on whether DHS personnel committed malfeasance and not whether the department’s policies and resources could properly protect the children in its care,” Rice said. She criticized the inspector general for declining an invitation to testify before the subcommittee.

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., also criticized the inspector general for taking a year to complete investigations of the two deaths. Jakelin and Felipe were both held by Border Patrol agents in her district.

“Even more concerning, the OIG limited its investigation scope to only determine whether there was malfeasance by personnel and did not consider whether CBP’s policies and procedures are adequate to prevent migrant child deaths,” Torres Small said. “As I’ve said from the beginning, the reason for these investigations is not to punish people, it’s to keep this from happening again. It’s to make sure that we have the protocols in place in case we’re faced with this challenge again.”

The DHS Office of Inspector General did not immediately respond to requests from ProPublica a hearing about the scope of the investigation or the reason for not testifying at Tuesday’s hearing.


ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force. We dig deep into important issues, shining a light on abuses of power and betrayals of public trust. Follow on Twitter at @ProPublica 



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Politics

Michael Avenatti Taken Into Custody by IRS Agents

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Michael Avenatti taken into custody by IRS agents on allegations of violating terms of pre-trial release

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Michael Avenatti, the former attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, was taken into custody by IRS agents on allegations of violating the terms of his pre-trial release.

Avenatti has been facing criminal investigations in New York and California on a variety of issues , including alleged extortion of Nike in New York, wire fraud of a client and tax fraud in California.

The State Bar of California last year began the process to disbar him from […]

Continue reading at abc7.com

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