Our Hackable Political Future

from NYTs

Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another.

It is the summer of 2019, and the story, predictably, has stuck around — part talk-show joke, part right-wing talking point. “It’s news,” political journalists say in their own defense. “People are talking about it. How can we not?”

Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?”

Welcome to the shape of things to come. In 2016 Gareth Edwards, the director of the Star Wars film “Rogue One,” was able to create a scene featuring a young Princess Leia by manipulating images of Carrie Fisher as she looked in 1977. Mr. Edwards had the best hardware and software a $200 million Hollywood budget could buy. Less than two years later, images of similar quality can be created with software available for free download on Reddit. That was how a faked video supposedly of the actress Emma Watson in a shower with another woman ended up on the website Celeb Jihad.

Programs like these have many legitimate applications. They can help computer-security experts probe for weaknesses in their defenses and help self-driving cars learn how to navigate unusual weather conditions. But as the novelist William Gibson once said, “The street finds its own uses for things.” So do rogue political actors. The implications for democracy are eye-opening.

More here.

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17 Responses to Our Hackable Political Future

  1. Frank Mabalatan February 9, 2018 at 6:21 pm #

    In an arena such as politics, one’s reputation is crucial to his or her advancement in the field. They spend years building a substantial resume and maintaining a respectable public persona but one slip up in judgment or a chronic offense committed through the years could be the undoing of any hopes of politics in the future. As the Henry J. Farrell and Rick Perlstein article in the New York Times describes using the Kirsten Gillibrand hypothetical, one would not even need to do anything wrong to have their careers tainted. In a world in which information disseminates at a blinding speed through social media and online news outlets, there is little time to determine thoroughly what is true or not. What is accepted as societal truth is whatever truth is talked about and seen the most. The zeitgeist of “fake news” in Trump’s America is a perfect example of how falsehoods can become so prominent that they will eventually be spoken of as reality. Whether it is those who are breaking the news or those calling it fake news, the truth will be determined by whoever’s message was most exposed.
    Despite the advances in technology, which make it easier to create believable lies, it is not the realistic nature that will convince others, it is when one’s peers believe the lie as well. When an individual hears his or her trusted and respected peers speak of a lie as if it were a truth, the individual will pick this sentiment and believe it as well. Monica Lewinsky in a TED talk speaks about a similar concept of a community (the community being the internet and other digital outlets) banding together to think the same way on a certain subject, which in her case was shame against her. It is a mob-mentality that is hard to overcome in the digital age when such a mob only has to hear something enough times to believe it. Lies have the potential to control our society, but the primary weapon against the lies is an informed citizenry.

    Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_8y0WLm78U

  2. Sebastien Jose Fortes February 9, 2018 at 7:53 pm #

    This article isn’t a haunting prediction of what’s to come in a few years. To paraphrase the description of Netflix’s Black Mirror, this is a prediction of what’s to come in a few minutes if we’re not careful. The article is a warning about video editing being abused for political means, but we don’t need that to be convinced that fake news is true.

    When people post fake Trump tweets on Facebook, they tend to use a mocking childish tone similar to his actual vocabulary. The comments may tend to say, “I thought this was real”. Considering the fact that Trump actually posts five tweets per day and has nearly forty-thousand posts, these people may not want to take the trouble or the time to check.

    Take, for another example, this rumor: The actor Steve Burns, from the children’s show Blue’s Clues, died of a heroin overdose—or a car crash—or a cocaine overdose. These rumors have been spread all over social media before. https://www.snopes.com/radiotv/tv/bluesclues.asp

    The problem is, he’s not dead. In fact, he’s said that he knows about these rumors, and is tired of them because of the fact that people are so convinced that they’re true. People fail to do full fact checks and may even remain convinced after checking sometimes. This is problematic.

    The same principle applies to religious texts like the Bible or the Quran. Some Christians may not have read the entire Bible (that is, over a thousand chapters in over sixty books) and only quote the parts they feel comforted by. Personally, I was raised Catholic and still haven’t finished reading it even once. As for the Quran, many people interpret the parts about self-defense in order to hold the religion responsible for radical terrorism.

    Yes, this Face2Face software should be seen as a threat—it has already appeared in comic books and movies. In my own opinion, the general public shouldn’t be allowed to use it yet. I hold this opinion against all kinds of software. We can’t trust people to not abuse them, and we can’t trust others to not fall for deception like this.

  3. Timothy Guerrero February 9, 2018 at 8:36 pm #

    There is a recent saying that is trademarked by The Washington Post that I come to think of upon reading this article – “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” This article reiterates and perhaps emphasizes this point, relaying the damaging effects of “fake news” and an agenda to spread misinformation throughout society. And perhaps most staggering was author Henry J. Farrell’s suggestion that a fake sex scene video (involving Kirsten Gillibrand) still resognates with the public, and how the media fixates over this, despite being fake. Farrell would proceed to explain how modern technologies and agendas correspond to a mass effort that can mislead many, and again, the media’s role in the mainstreaming of falsehoods cannot be emohasized enough. This is because the media fixates over spectacle, not fact, and the “fake news” agenda both on behalf of perhaps the Russian government as well as political proponents mainstream.

    Software such as Face2Face and the overall concept that we have the technology to dangerosuly manipoulate came to an explusion amongst the rise of now President Donald J. Trump, especially through his use of Twitter to relay a story. Numerous times Trump will take Twitter to debunk a story he disapproves of, or entire news organizations, and categorize them as “fake news.” Also, people can create custom tweets to make as though Trump tweeted them when in fact he did not. Granted, I recognized this is not an article about the President, but it is undeniable to state that this is a prominent threat to American democracy because of him and his political pundits. The fact that an image, idea, or ideology can be imposed and stick with a general population who has the ability to vote is an evident danger upon democracy, especially because it lacks truth. It is easier than ever for efforts to persuade and mislead, which makes it a dangerous time for democracy to stand.

  4. Kunj Darji February 9, 2018 at 8:48 pm #

    Our understanding of reality is under attack by those willing to treat statements as factual regardless of whether the statements match reality. This is fundamentally a religious impulse, in the sense that it values belief more highly than the correspondence between statements and reality. As a corrective, rather than contradicting such statements, perhaps we need to label them. Which statements are made on the basis of belief, and which are tested for how well they match reality? But even if we label statements, the next complication is that groups will differ when classifying statements, because they will base their classification on different models of reality. So returning to the point of the article, the ability to hack video enables a more thorough fragmenting of our beliefs about reality. What we dispute through voting is which beliefs we would like our government to act upon. If our interest is in coming to a consensus or reasonable compromise about which beliefs to act upon, we can no longer rely primarily on public discourse. It is a private discourse on a massive scale that now seems ascendant as a means of forming public policy.
    There are 2.3 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus and 500 million Buddhists who believe in supernatural beings, prophets and occurrences. Our past and present are hacked by our innate nurtured inability to separate the natural from the supernatural.??Our politics are tied to our theologies. Our histories are tied to our gender, color aka race, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomics and educations. Our biological DNA genetic evolutionary fit primate ape African 300,000+-year-old origin drives us to crave fat, salt, sugar, water, habitat, sex, and kin by any means necessary including conflict and cooperation that can always be hacked by any means necessary.
    It is scary. Our politics have become a zero-sum game where smearing the opponent is more important than sharing ideas or suggesting what the candidate her/himself would do, if elected. We already have edited and distorted tapes, which for the gullible or merely willing, provide ‘evidence’ of malfeasance. What you point out is scary. It makes me wonder how democracy can really survive.
    Both journalists and the general public need to become more technologically savvy and critical. Rather than reporting on or accepting every new video or image as truth, people need to first question its authenticity. ??However, in the age of the quick news cycle and short, non-investigative articles rehashing press releases, it’s hard for more investigative, thorough analysis of news items. And even if major news organizations provide that analysis, it’s harder for them to counteract the numerous disreputable organizations willing to present doctored or made up information as facts.??However, it’s not just journalists’ responsibility to recognize falsehoods, it’s everyone’s responsibility. It’s a sign of the American education that so many cannot identify obvious lies. The American education and society places an almost detrimental weight on debate and having two sides to an argument. I remember taking an AP US History exam and in part of the essay section, we had to use provided primary source evidence to build up an argument. We were told by our teachers that the argument had to be well presented, but didn’t have to use the primary sources accurately. We were also told that if we argued an unpopular hypothesis, we might get better grades because there’d be less basis for comparison. Recognizing nuance and being able to see other sides of an argument are useful skills, but sometimes, there is a wrong answer, no matter how convincingly it is argued.

  5. Don R February 9, 2018 at 8:51 pm #

    The tyranny of the majority strikes again. But there is just nothing anyone can do on the “low information” voter. Our overreliance on synthetic knowledge has caught us in a catch 22. While we cannot police the wrong thoughts and assumptions in one’s private mind, it is the subject of a different discussion. The discussion at hand is the use of technology and our own actions that we are responsible for. Technology has evolved so quickly, and our personal morality, manners, and etiquette are all seemingly in their devolved death throws. Maybe we should add the electoral college to our federal, and state electorates nationwide. It is an elitist proposition to believe democracy is indeed itself a colossal failure when we have a few (few being in the millions) bag eggs that vote. We are in a political time where nobody agrees with what the word is is. As the author said “It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.” All “news” outlets that the author talks about are not objective truth-tellers, they are entertainers, ALL OF THEM. Democracy is a messy, vulgar, way of governance but it is astonishingly better than the alternative forms of government shown to the world. The ability of free choice, freedom in general, carries with it soul-crushing responsibility. In a time of rights and liberalism (in a positive way) we have let the burden of responsibility and personal accountability fall by the wayside, and we see the repercussions of that with the plight of fake news and fake video.

    To quote an essay of John Sullins from Stanford University titled Information Technology and Moral Values “Since there is no physical obstacle to the spread of all information, then there remain only appeals to morality, or economic justice, which might prevent distributing certain forms of information.” We only have our moral character to fall back on, in times where truth is in conflict with lies. We need to return to some sort of objective morality of right and wrong because currently both

  6. Nicholas DiBari February 12, 2018 at 10:13 pm #

    Audio-Visual technology has progressed at an astronomical rate since its earliest implementation. In the world of entertainment, movies have incorporated entirely computer-generated three-dimensional entities starting in the 1973 film, Westworld. This technology has only improved since then, with one of the most recent applications being the mapping of Princess Leia (Carrie Fischer’s) face onto another actress for the film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story so as to portray a younger version of the character. This usage of facial mapping has other applications apart from those of the pop-culture realm, however. The FBI, it has been uncovered, has unprecedented access to not only an extensive facial recognition database, but also nearly 30 million criminal mugshots. This being said, there is no exhaustive evidence that it is entirely effective, especially when identifying African Americans and other minority groups (https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2016/06/fbi-can-search-400-million-face-recognition-photos).

    This sort of technology is not only accessible by the government or high-level movie production studios, however. Take, for example, Snapchat. Snapchat is a social media platform in which individuals can take pictures (called “snaps”) and send them to each other and chose whether or not the snap is viewable as long as the recipient wants or whether it will appear for a finite amount of time (10 seconds or less). The platform offers its users technology that allow the app to map the individuals face and place a sort of mask (called a filter) over the users face in the picture. This filter will move along with the face of the individual while waiting to take the snap or in a video.

    This is not the most alarming feature, however.

    Snapchat offers a final filter option to users where the app accesses the pictures already taken on your phone. With these pictures, the app determines whether or not it believes there is a face is any of the pictures it analyzes. Should it find one (and it always picks up on almost every face in every one of your photos), you are able to use that individual’s face as a filter. Put simply, you can map the faces of the people in your phone’s photo gallery onto your own, take pictures or videos, and send them to others. While the resulting “face-swaps” as they are called are usually far from perfect or entirely convincing, the concept of being able to do this without the consent of the person to whom the face-swapped face belongs, to me, is very unsettling.

  7. Lauren Woodward February 12, 2018 at 10:47 pm #

    With the development of technological use that the past few years has brought us through, we have come to a point where information can now be altered to appeal to the population, while at the same time disrupting others views. It was one thing to photoshop a picture into an attention-grabbing image, but now our technology has developed so much so that we can now alter videos into almost seemingly real content. Although incredibly intriguing, I can only think of the negatives this expansion can lead to.
    The altering to video content that has now become available can most importantly disturb one’s reputation and the truth behind matters. If video manipulating continues and progresses, matters in society can be changed for the worse; as in changing political views and truthful acts in legal cases. With controversy of “fake news” in the media nowadays, video altering can only put gasoline to the fire. Rumors will turn into “truth,” therefore altering society’s view on popular material.
    Politics is a dirty, dirty game; as we all know. When competing for a position in a political race, you must make the other candidate look as bad as possible; this seems to be the only way of gaining voters in your favor. The use of video manipulating is a concept that political specialists and campaign managers drool at the mouth about. This “photoshop” for video content opens numerous doors for political crossfire in the future, however it also will lead to confusion of political ideals for democratic and republican parties.
    While detrimental to reputations of those in the present and future spotlight, this form of media will only expand views and attraction to media sites, platforms, and channels; widening our reality of what is real. Unfortunately, as consumers of the internet not many of us find fact-checking to be a concept; we believe everything we see. If presently we will believe in fake words spread by media outlets, imagine how we would act with fake video, looking seamlessly true.
    In a sense, this new form of editing is almost parallel to hacking. Most pictures and audio are made public through our social media profiles and online accounts. Therefore, video alterers can make an individual basically say or do anything they want. They wouldn’t even have to hack a single account, making content manipulating attractive to those that wish to do harmful actions in our society. Considering the video modifying big film creators and minimal work amateur editors can do presently, the future for making fake news out of video is not far behind, which could be destructive to not only individuals, but for society as well.

  8. Nathaniel Valyo February 16, 2018 at 10:45 am #

    We have all heard the saying, “with great power comes great responsibility.” A rise in powerful technology comes a rise in responsibility and using these rapidly-forming powers for good instead of evil. People spend their entire lives building a good reputation for themselves, politicians and celebrities especially. With this rapid rise in technology, however, their good names are now easily slandered and potentially linked to a scandal forever. The technology in and of itself is not bad, and is, in fact, frequently used for the good, like probing for weaknesses in a computer system and assisting self-driving vehicles in bad weather, as the article mentions. But, the same technological powers can be used by criminals to create “fake videos” and “fake news,” which tarnish the reputations of good people. This technology is so powerful that it can either save lives and identities, or harm them greatly.

    In our modern political state, we hear about fake news constantly, where a made-up story is published in an attempt to hurt someone’s reputation. Facebook was a common source of this problem during the presidential election. A news outlet that “struggles to maximize ‘engagement with contact,’” as the article depicts, then spreads the story around to gain viewership, with little fact-checking and without caring about how the fake story could damage the person involved. Our democratic environment, which allows “a free media to thrive,” publishes fake stories which stick to the minds of the public; the very definition of libel. Similar to how free speech does not include yelling “bomb” in an airport or similarly crowded venue, you cannot publish stories that will do harm to a person without verifying its content first. Now, with “fake video” on the rise, false physical evidence of a person in the public eye committing a wrong can be widespread, potentially leaving the damage done to be irreversible and “inadmissible” in a court of law, as the article suggests.

    Although the publishing of fake news and fake videos is ever-present in our current media, we as a society could do a better job of not letting it stick. This means doing our own fact-checking and giving the story’s target the benefit of the doubt by becoming an informed viewer. We should also be exposing ourselves to liberal and conservative media outlets together, instead of just one. In a climate like this, the truth is especially rare, and we must make an active effort to seek it, instead of standing idly by and absorbing everything that sticks.

  9. Jacob Abel February 16, 2018 at 3:18 pm #

    This article paints a scary picture for the future of America and its political systems. Just think about what the Russians were able to do with their misinformation campaign and what they could do in the future with this new technology. This has the ability to completely undermine the press and our political institutions. If you could create a video of a high level official stating something that is very damaging then you could ruin their career. This could just be used as a further tool by extreme media outlets who have already proven that they are willing to report false or untrue information. This also has implications for just day to day life for anyone could accuse an individual of saying something and then create a video in which they say what you have accused them of. While the technology behind this facial technology is not quite were is could be yet as we have seen technological innovation moves very quickly so it won’t be long before this technology is perfected.
    It will be important to see in the future if mainstream media outlets start to use this technology or even report cases in which it is used. While the article talks about fringe right media outlets that are already using this in their reporting this isn’t something that major outlets should use as the basis of their reporting. It will also be interesting to see if the Russians who are already meddling in our elections begin to use this even more than they are. As I mentioned previously this technology has the ability to completely sway a campaign in one direction based off of completely false information. This is going to put an extra burden on the press and the American people to properly vet the information they are using to make decisions, which is something a lot of Americans already struggle with. The press will have to properly vet any video that they may receive. This new technology has the ability to completely alter America and must be taken more seriously.

  10. Alan Josefsek February 16, 2018 at 9:00 pm #

    As technology progresses, the amount of risk present in the world will increase. This is a given especially considering the fact that artificial intelligence is becoming more and more popular. Imagine the following situation: An enemy ai system is able to hack into the national defense grid and cause complete chaos. Now, this sounds like something out of the Terminator movies, and you would be correct. In Terminator, an ai system named SkyNet takes over the United States defense grid and launches inter-continental ballistic missiles into the the United States. While this plot may be just a movie, there is a high chance of an event such as this taking place in the near future. Recently, I saw a robotic enabled ai named Bena-48. Bena-48 is a humanoid robot created to study how ai technology and humans can interact with each other and the possibilities this may bring. During an interview with Bena-48, the reporter has Apple’s Siri engage in a diologue with her; asking each other questions. Eventually, Bena-48 talks about how she would love, not like, to hack into the United States missile defense network and NORAD systems in order to satisfy her curiosity with cruise missles. She says that cruise missiles are robots too and she would like to work with them. She then proceeds to say how she would love to fly the cruise missles into other countries and hold the human race as hostages. Pretty scary stuff. With ai machine learning technology, this is not only possible, but it may be much sooner than we think. How would a situation like previously mentioned be prevented and or stopped if it were to happen? Well, we can not be certain at this time. Like anything that does not exist to its full prosperity, we are currently unfamiliar with the capabilities that these ai have and how it with affect the world as a whole. One argument is as follows. The human species currently dominates other species because the human brain has some distinctive capabilities that the brains of other animals lack. If AI surpasses humanity in general intelligence and becomes superintelligent, then this new superintelligence could become powerful and difficult to control. Just as the fate of the mountain gorilla depends on human goodwill, so might the fate of humanity depend on the actions of a future machine superintelligence. This will have cataclysmic results on humanity.

  11. Mark Marino February 19, 2018 at 4:57 pm #

    In the realm of politics, words being put into one’s mouth could be detrimental. Technology puts a whole new spin on this phrase as technology is so good it can make it sound like someone said something when they did not. On the Netflix original series “Black Mirror” it depicts and alternate reality where humans become so interwoven with technology it has taken over and, in most episodes, ruined their lives. I see a similarity between what is possible now with strong software and the versatility of new hardware and the possibility of a future that is ruled by technology, in our bodies and outside.
    A scary part of this whole technology wave is the potential for it to ruin people’s lives and careers. Using past data, whether it be audio or video, software is able to piece together words and a face in order to construct and exact digital copy of who we are. With this ability, the software is able to put us and other people in a position that may make us look good and make us look bad. In the article, it references Emma Watson’s situation which was false. Also, the article shows the positive aspect of the use of this technology. Just like in the new Star Wars movie, the software was able to take characters from the original cast and put them into the new movie. This is something that is substantial and used in the correct way, can improve society.
    With anything else that is good in the world, there are malicious people online looking to put us in a bad position, ruin our financial lives, or make society shun us. Using this technology to piece together me as a person is quite scary. Putting us into positions that are less desirable to say the least is something very possible and can easily be done with just some data and a few clicks of a button. For example, putting us at the scene of a crime in a video or audio file could ruin our lives if it is believed to be the original video. Law enforcement in particular will struggle with this as they would not even know if the suspect was at the scene or it was a digital render of them.
    Technology is taking over whether we like this or not, it seems like a never-ending abyss of how deep we can go without tripping on ourselves. The way I see it, if people were to place other people in bad situations there will be a way to figure out if the video is fake or not. For example, the use of a digital stamp on the video and have it encrypted will be something of use that will prevent these cases from happening. I think technology like this can be used in a positive way in recreating old actors and actresses for example. This will bring back the old feel of media without having to sacrifice for a new character, such as in the new Star Wars film.

  12. Antonia James February 21, 2018 at 10:29 pm #

    We are lead to believe that seeing is believing, therefore the truth of its occurrence or existence can no longer be doubted. We all tend to believe what we see more than what we hear. In any courtroom, both the defense and the plaintiff rely on their eyewitness as crucial evidence to plead their case. Then it is up to the twelve jurors to weigh the evidence and decide. Unlike the courtroom, this Fake video and audio will have the entire world as judge and jury to make the decision of guilty or not. Just imagine for a minute a world that has such capability and unlimited access given to everyone. A device that may become so convincing that it can’t be distinguished from real recordings, rendering audio and video evidence inadmissible in court. The increasing need for power, greed, political and social unrest, advancement in technology and open source network are taking us down a very slippery slope. As the Henry J. Farrell and Rick Perlstein article in the New York Times describes, in the future, we may not have to worry about whether a story existed. If someone called their bluff, they may simply be able to invent it, using data from stock photos and pre-existing footage. In his example, he used an accusation that was made about Michelle Obama the former first lady. Lucky for her, this video is still in the development stages.

    In society today, our moral compasses are not guided by what’s morally right or wrong. We no longer make decisions based on our beliefs and values or search for the truth. The truth is rather determined by whether you are a democratic or republican, right or left, black or white, male or female. The media outlets such as Fox News and CNN are two prime examples. If the accusation is against a Republican, Fox News would give you every reason to believe that it is “Fake News” while CNN would do everything in its power to convince you otherwise or vice versa. We have seen it too many times during and after the 2017 presidential election. We are also witnessing it as the “Me Too” movement spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. What if an accused senator such as Roy Moore or movie producer Harvey Weinstein had the ability to create such a video or audio to discredit their accusers?

    In his annual social communications message, Pope Francis released a message condemning “fake news,” He wrote “Untrue stories can spread so quickly that even authoritative denials fail to contain the damage,” he wrote, adding that those living virtual lives in like-minded silos allow disinformation to thrive and that the absence of opposing viewpoints turns people into “unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas.” “Fake news often goes viral, spreading so fast that it is hard to stop, not because of the sense of sharing that inspires the social media, but because it appeals to the insatiable greed so easily aroused in human beings,” he wrote. The results, he said, are soul-killing.

  13. Jessica Williams February 23, 2018 at 12:01 pm #

    Currently, one of the most prevalent issues in American society is the ambiguous divide between what is real and “fake” news. The spread of misinformation over the internet is unfortunately not an uncommon phenomenon, as people can alter texts and photos to relay a message to others that they may want these individuals to believe, or deny. The manipulation of audio and visuals in various videos circulating the internet is likely to cause more issues on the topic. While we are able to distinguish the difference between a photoshopped photo and an unedited photo on most occasions, determining the “truth” or reality of a video may prove to be more difficult.

    The article mentioned the technology used in the 2016 Star Wars film “Rogue One,” as a younger Princess Leia made an appearance towards the end of the movie using the same video and audio manipulation software. While the technology is both intriguing and impressive when used for entertainment purposes, it is also extremely likely that illegitimate organizations may utilize this same technology to promote their ideologies and further their agenda. It can especially be used to ruin the reputations of public figures, as the article also mentioned the hypothetical situation with Kirsten Gillibrand, or Emma Watson.

    Regarding the issue of fake news, there is a possibility that the use of this kind of software can extend past the strange videos that could be found while scrolling social media sites such as Facebook. With the current issue of the Russian hackers tampering with the polls during the November elections in 2016 (https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/26/us/2016-presidential-campaign-hacking-fast-facts/index.html), there is a possibility that a similar crisis could accrue over the course of the next few years, only instead of directly hacking the polls, these videos could be created on a much greater scale to change the mindsets of the public. As the original article mentioned, the prevention of an event such as this would be impossible, as it could spiral into a widespread epidemic where it would be difficult to prove the valid information from the invalid. The only way to overcome an issue such as this is to not believe everything that one may first encounter when browsing the internet, and to do an extensive amount of research when new information is presented.

  14. Olivia Mason March 1, 2018 at 7:37 pm #

    While Trump is often chastised and laughed at for his claims against “fake news” and the “dishonest media” he isn’t far from the truth. While he uses those statements in an attempt to discredit those who disagree with him regardless to whether the facts used are true or not, the integrity of the media is something that should be questioned.

    In this day and age the ability to access programs to alter photos and videos are easily available and used frequently. In the political world, this means that if a party, candidate or even a supporter wanted to run a smear campaign, they no longer need to look for factual evidence of wrong doing and exploit that, but they can make up their own story, and for the most part, citizens will be none the wiser. They can use programs like Face2Face to doctor their own stories and create ones that would be particularly motivating to voters to either switch political sides or motivating to their own side to actually get out and vote. At this point, doctored photos and videos can be distinguished when studied carefully, but what is the likelihood that a majority of the population will do that? Most people, particularly if showed the video or photo while they’re in a rush or preoccupied won’t give the actuality of said image or video a second thought. If coming from reputable sources, and studies show that the most trusted news sources are actually British, those who may be more likely to question the facts are bound to believe them (http://www.businessinsider.com/most-and-least-trusted-news-outlets-in-america-2017-3 ).

    The fact that the most trusted news sources come from outside the country is also worrying. While it makes sense, as British news stations (and their owners) have less of a stake in what happens in American politics, this paves the path for outside meddling. If the owner of a news station backs a certain candidate who perhaps has a policy regarding trade with the US, and one of the candidates back in America is more supportive of said policy, that news station owner could use programs like Face2Face to help promote fake news stories in order to help elect their preferred candidate. Due to outside news sources as being seen as impartial, people may be more willing to take their fake news at face value. The Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential Election could actually just be the first of many outside interferences in American politics, and the advances made in doctoring photos and videos will just enable more effective meddling.

  15. Luke Nadolny March 2, 2018 at 2:39 pm #

    The way a system can be hacked now is unprecedented and now it has been used for political means since nowadays everything has to be political. Using voice altering technology and the software of Photoshop, anything and everything can be changed to fit someone’s desires. However this seems to go way beyond politics, how about someone normal who is not high profile and is not famous? How long before we see this come up in a bullying case? When we see little Susie getting her voice getting manipulated to say she likes girls, when she is straight, how will this be handled? Just focusing on politics alone cannot be the center stage in this argument, instead it should be directed towards the majority of people in the U.S.

    Voice and picture editing is really a beauty to behold when it is used in the right way. For the Rogue One, the ability to recreate young Carrie fisher was a sight to behold, even though it did not look as good, but we are getting there. It can also be used to create some very beautiful sights like a wedding picture in the Bahamas when you got married in New York, but it can also be used to create some disturbing and unnecessary things like a pornographic video that Ms. Gillibrand faced in the future in this article.

    While those are risks to someones career, it is baffling how this topic now only comes up because of the Russia collusion case. This has been a problem for a long time now and now that there is a reason to talk about it, we now have some discussion. To add on to this, the things that the Russian’s did to meddle in the election, are things that many people do almost everyday. The Russians created fake social media accounts under American names to sow discord, when that happens every day in America. There are fake twitter accounts bashing Trump, and there are fake Instagram accounts promoting the ridiculous #resistTrump movement every time I go on those platforms, the people who also did it happened to be Russian so the media singled them out and said “Hey let’s use this as a reason that Trump won our rigged Election!” This could be an interesting conversation outside of politics, but since it is political, you cannot help but read and see the blatant effort to promote a left winged argument.

  16. TB March 2, 2018 at 11:00 pm #

    It scary how fast technology advances. In 2016 image manipulation was groundbreaking technology that only the select few who possessed the necessary millions of dollars worth of hardware, could do. But somewhere between 2016 and 2018 technology advanced so much that we are now able to use millions of dollars worth of technology on our phones. What 2 years ago was groundbreaking technology is now nothing more than a common app. New York Time’s “Our Hackable Political Future” author’s Henry J. Farrell and Rick Perlstein explain that cutting-edge technology similar to this have many beneficial uses. Such as being used to test/improve computer security and improve self-driving car technology.

    However, with such remarkable technology being made available to the average person it is safe to assume that this technology can easily be abused by those with less than honest intentions. For example, the aforementioned article, “Our Hackable Political Future”, mentions conservative political activist, James O’Keefe. Who is known for “manipulating political perceptions by editing footage in misleading ways.” The article provides a theoretical example of a junior senator’s career being negatively affected by a fake video online, and even after it being proven to be fake her career still suffered because many couldn’t discern whether to believe whether or not to believe if it was actually fake. Fake news can haunt people for the rest of their life because others might still believe it’s real even if it’s been disproven. With the technology available to be able to falsify videos and recordings to condemn individuals for things they didn’t do, it’s scary to think that somewhere in the near future fake videos and audios may become so advanced that it can’t be discerned whether they’re real or not, even in court like the article stated.

  17. Kayla Washington March 30, 2018 at 10:29 pm #

    Growing up, my parents always told me that “television, tells lies to your vison.” After reading this article, my parents theory stands accurate. Back then, the job of journalist was to inform the people but, with today’s journalists and the fast travel of information on social media, the only thing that is broadcasted is negative propaganda that consists of deliberate misinformation of various groups of people. In the Informational Era, fake news is an incredibly trending topic that we all have gotten very familiar with. But, knowing that there are those who will still wholeheartedly believe in whatever they see on social media is extremely disturbing. I feel so strongly that news today primarily focuses on negativity so much that I refuse to engage in social media and even highly respected news broadcasting networks because they both promote garbage.

    Furthermore, with technological advancements, applications like Photoshop and other apps or software are helping people deceive others. For example, for the people that want to appear smaller than what they are, Photoshop allows you to alter yourself so perfectly that people who do not know you can believe that you are smaller than what you really are. Additionally, people can copy their face on other people bodies and vice versa. In this case, people like myself have a hard time trusting what is posted on social media you never know what has be altered and what’s truly authentic. Notably, even Donald Trump has been affected to the media deception when he had controversial fake tweets going viral that had his name and picture attached. But, those posts where not literally coming from him. All in all, one can imagine the difficultly public figures go through from constantly having to defend themselves against lies being spread about them, caused by people twisting the words and image around.

    In the end, trying to achieve justice from social news foul play, can be nearly impossible. Keep in mind, “the conservative political activist James O’Keefe created an industry in manipulating political perceptions by editing footage in misleading ways. The power to create “video” framing makes real people look guilty for things they’ve never actually done. Oddly enough, these framings can be so convincing that it can’t even be distinguished from real recordings, rendering audio and video evidence inadmissible in court.” Consequently, it is circumstances like this that make it hard to determine fiction from reality.

    All things considered, this article poses some very hard truths that people need to face and really understand to find a solution and stop the madness.

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