San Francisco, June 27 (AP/UNB) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company is evaluating how it should handle "deepfake" videos created with artificial intelligence and high-tech tools to yield false but realistic clips.
In an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on Wednesday, Zuckerberg said it might make sense to treat such videos differently from other misinformation such as false news. Facebook has long held that it should not decide what is and isn't true, leaving such calls instead to outside fact-checkers.
But Zuckerberg says it's worth asking whether deepfakes are a "completely different category" from regular false statements. He says developing a policy on these videos is "really important" as AI technology grows more sophisticated.
Facebook, like other social media companies, does not have a specific policy against deepfakes, whose potential threat has emerged only in the last couple of years. Company executives have said in the past that it makes sense to look at them under the broader umbrella of false or misleading information. But Zuckerberg is signaling that this view might be changing, leaving open the possibility that Facebook might ban deepfakes altogether.
Doing so, of course, could get complicated. Satire, art and political dissent could be swept up in any overly broad ban, creating more headaches from Facebook.
Other false videos could still get a pass. For instance, the recent altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made her sound like she was slurring her words does not meet the definition of a deepfake.
Paris, Jun 26 (AP/UNB) — Facebook is agreeing to help French police identify hate speech suspects, in what the French government is celebrating as a global first.
France's digital affairs minister, Cedric O, said that Facebook will provide authorities "IP addresses to help identify authors of hateful content." Speaking on broadcaster France-Info, he expressed hope that the cooperation could be expanded to other countries.
Facebook said in a statement that it will help provide "basic information in criminal hate speech cases" to French authorities but will "push back if (the request) is overbroad, inconsistent with human rights, or legally defective."
Like many countries, France has been battling violent and racist content online, and has been hit by deadly extremist attacks in recent years.
The move came after Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg came to Paris last month and met with French President Emmanuel Macron.
London, Jun 24 (AP/UNB) — A senior Facebook executive says the social media site is in favor of regulation to address some of the dark problems of the internet.
Nick Clegg, the former leader of the U.K. Liberal Democrat party who now heads global affairs for Facebook, says it is not "for private companies" to decide how to balance free speech versus public harm.
Clegg told the BBC on Monday that companies like Facebook are not "shunning" government intervention but advocating a "sensible way" forward in addressing issues such as cyberbullying or fake news.
Lawmakers have been pushing tech companies to take down offensive content more quickly and to do more in general to halt internet harm. But Clegg says it is up to "democratic politicians in the democratic world" to set the rules.
San Francisco, June 23 (Xinhua/UNB) -- A company created by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan on Friday announced the awarding of 68 million U.S. dollars to fund a global project to map all cells in the human body.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), a limited liability firm based in the Redwood City, California, said the fund will support the ongoing global project the Human Cell Atlas (HCA) and its selection of 38 collaborative science teams to map the human body cell by cell.
The three-year grant will be shared by the 38 teams from 20 countries and multiple disciplines that cover medicine, software engineering and computational biology.
The participants will focus on mapping specific tissues, such as the heart, eye, or liver, in the healthy human body, said the CZI.
"The global Human Cell Atlas effort is a beacon for what can be accomplished when experts across scientific fields and time zones work together towards a common goal," said CZI Head of Science Cori Bargmann.
The result of the research and tools created from it will be shared freely among other researchers and research institutes, said the CZI, which is also working with the European Bioinformatics Institute, the Broad Institute, as well as the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The CZI has previously funded 85 projects to create collaborative computational tools in support of building the HCA, as well as 38 pilot projects to help establish best practices and data analysis technologies for constructing the atlas.
The interdisciplinary collaborations will accelerate progress toward a first draft of the Human Cell Atlas, Bargmann said.
San Francisco, Jun 19 (AP/UNB) — Facebook already rules daily communication for more than 2 billion people around the world. Now it wants its own currency, too.
The social network unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday to create a new digital currency similar to Bitcoin for global use, one that could drive more e-commerce on its services and boost ads on its platforms.
But the effort, which Facebook is launching with partners including PayPal, Uber, Spotify, Visa and Mastercard, could also complicate matters for the beleaguered social network. Facebook is currently under federal investigation over its privacy practices, and along with other technology giants also faces a new antitrust probe in Congress .
Creating its own globe-spanning currency — one that could conceivably threaten banks, national currencies and the privacy of users — isn't likely to dampen regulators' interest in Facebook.
"It's a bold and strategic move that has clear risks as well as opportunities tied to it," said Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives. "This could raise further yellow flags as more regulators focus on Facebook."
David Marcus, the head of Facebook's cryptocurrency operation, said in a tweet Tuesday that Facebook is creating a separate subsidiary, Calibra, to handle the new currency. He said feedback from customers has been "loud and clear" about keeping social media and financial data separate.
"We understand we will have to earn your trust," he wrote.
The digital currency, called Libra, is scheduled to launch in the next six to 12 months. Facebook is taking the lead on building Libra and its underlying technology; its more than two dozen partners will help fund, build and govern the system. Facebook hopes to raise as much as $1 billion from existing and future partners to support the effort.
Company officials emphasized that Libra is a way of sending money across borders without incurring significant fees, such as those charged by Western Union and other international money-transfer services. Fees typically start at a few dollars but can be much higher when paying with a credit card. Shares in Western Union fell 2% in morning trading.
Libra could also open up online commerce to huge numbers of people around the world who currently don't have bank accounts or credit cards.
"If you fast forward a number of years, consumers all over the world will have the ability to access the world economy," Marcus said in an interview with The Associated Press.
Facebook also could use its own currency to drive more people to make purchases from ads on its social media sites, said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan, who based her comments on press reports about Libra that preceded Facebook's formal announcement. "This is about fostering more sales within an ad to get more business from advertisers to make ads more interesting on Facebook," she said.
Backing by familiar corporations might also make Libra the first Bitcoin-like currency with mass appeal. Such "cryptocurrencies" have generally failed to catch on despite a devout following among curious investors and innovators. Bitcoin itself remains shrouded in secrecy and fraud concerns, not to mention wild value fluctuations, making it unappealing for the average shopper.
Libra will be different, Facebook says, in part because its value will be pegged to a basket of established currencies, such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, the yen and others. Each purchase of Libra will be backed by a reserve fund of equal value held in real-world currencies to stabilize Libra's value.
Wedbush analyst Ives said how well it is received will boil down to execution and "how comfortable consumers feel around Facebook and cryptocurrency."
To be sure, recent history reminds us that many big Facebook announcements never really take off. Two years ago, for instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised that "augmented reality ," in which phones and other devices project digital images into real-world surroundings, would be a major focus for the company. Such AR applications remain all but invisible today. Same goes for the online shopping chatbots that Zuckerberg unveiled a year earlier, saying they would revolutionize e-commerce in its Messenger app.
Facebook won't run Libra directly; instead, the company and its partners are forming a nonprofit called the Libra Association, headquartered in Geneva, that will oversee the new currency and its use. The association will be regulated by Swiss financial authorities, Facebook said.
"No single company should operate this," Marcus said. "It should be a public good."
Facebook's new Calibra subsidiary is developing a digital wallet app to make it easier for people to buy, send and use Libra.
Libra partners will create incentives to get people and merchants to use the coin. That could range from Uber discounts to a Libra bonus paid when users set up a Calibra wallet, although the companies haven't laid out specifics.
Many privacy questions remain unanswered, though. Cryptocurrencies such as Libra store all transactions on a widely distributed, encrypted "ledger" known as the blockchain. That could make the Libra blockchain a permanent record of all purchases or cash transfers every individual makes, even if they're stored under pseudonyms rather than real names. Facebook said people can keep their individual transactions from appearing on the blockchain by using Calibra's wallet app, though in that case, Calibra would have your data instead.
Calibra pledges that it won't share transaction data from details of Libra user's financials with Facebook unless compelled to do so in criminal cases. Still, if people are using Facebook products to buy things and send money, it's possible Facebook will be able to track some data about shopping and money transferring habits.
Calibra won't require users to have a Facebook account to use Libra. And it will allow people to send Libra back and forth on two of Facebook's core messaging apps — WhatsApp and Messenger. Instagram messages won't be included, at least at first.
Earlier this year, Zuckerberg announced a new privacy-focused vision for the company after months of backlash for its treatment of personal customer information. Zuckerberg's vision — which has mostly not been detailed publicly — will rely heavily on privacy-shielded messaging apps in an attempt to make the services more about private, one-to-one connections.
Many analysts believe Zuckerberg wants to create a U.S. version of the Chinese service WeChat, which combines social networking, messaging and payments in a single app. Libra would take Facebook a step closer to that end.