2 Lawmakers to Meta, X: Crack Down on Fake AI Political Ads

As plethora of deepfakes spread, Klobuchar, NY rep ask execs to address 'serious concerns'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2023 11:59 AM CDT
Dems Want X, Meta to Crack Down on Fake AI Political Ads
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota walks to Capitol Hill, Sept. 6, 2023. Klobuchar and Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York sent a letter Thursday to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and X CEO Linda Yaccarino asking each to explain any rules they're crafting to curb AI-generated election ads that deceive people.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Deepfakes generated by artificial intelligence are having their moment this year, at least when it comes to making it look, or sound, like celebrities doing something uncanny. Tom Hanks hawking a dental plan. Pope Francis wearing a stylish puffer jacket. Sen. Rand Paul sitting on the Capitol steps in a red bathrobe. But what happens next year ahead of a US presidential election? Google was the first big tech company to say it would impose new labels on deceptive AI-generated political advertisements that could fake a candidate's voice or actions. Now Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Yvette Clarke, both Democrats, are asking Meta and X, formerly Twitter, to address "serious concerns" about the emergence of AI-generated political ads on their platforms and asking each to explain any rules they're crafting to curb the harms to free and fair elections.

"They are two of the largest platforms and voters deserve to know what guardrails are being put in place," Klobuchar tells the AP. "We are simply asking them, 'Can't you do this? Why aren't you doing this?' It's clearly technologically possible." The letter from Klobuchar and Clarke warns: "With the 2024 elections quickly approaching, a lack of transparency about this type of content in political ads could lead to a dangerous deluge of election-related misinformation and disinformation across your platforms—where voters often turn to learn about candidates and issues." A House bill introduced by Clarke earlier this year would amend a federal election law to require disclaimers when election ads contain AI-generated images or video.

"That's like the bare minimum" of what is needed, says Klobuchar, who is sponsoring companion legislation in the Senate that she hopes will get passed before the end of the year. In the meantime, the hope is that big tech platforms will "do it on their own while we work on the standard," Klobuchar says. Google has already said that starting in mid-November it will require a clear disclaimer on any AI-generated election ads that alter people or events on YouTube and other Google products. This policy applies both in the US and in other countries where the company verifies election ads. Facebook and Instagram parent Meta doesn't have a rule specific on AI-generated political ads, but has a policy restricting "faked, manipulated or transformed" audio and imagery used for misinformation.

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A more recent bipartisan Senate bill, co-sponsored by Klobuchar, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley and others, would go farther in banning "materially deceptive" deepfakes relating to federal candidates, with exceptions for parody and satire. Citing fake videos of a post-apocalyptic Biden era, former President Trump hugging Anthony Fauci, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggesting restrictions on Republicans voting, Klobuchar said such ads would likely be banned under the proposed rules. "That is going to be so misleading if you, in a presidential race, have either the candidate you like or the candidate you don't like actually saying things that aren't true," Klobuchar said. "How are you ever going to know the difference?"

(More artificial intelligence stories.)

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