In his first U.S. TV interview since taking the helm at Instagram, Adam Mosseri told Gayle King of CBS News that the company is evaluating its stance on “deepfake” videos.
Altered, phony videos showing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her speech as if impaired or Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking about profiting from consumers’ data, have spread across social media. King asked Mosseri, who became the head of Instagram last October, why the company would leave the Zuckerberg video up if it clearly is misleading and false.
“We could declare victory, but that’s not a victory at all. It’s totally hollow,” he said.
Because so many viewers see fake videos within a day or two of them appearing, Mosseri argued, “the damage is done” in many cases before any action can be taken. Given that the Zuckerberg footage derived from an appearance on CBSN, whose branding is visible in the false clip, CBS made a formal takedown request on copyright grounds, but Instagram has not acted on it.
“We don’t have a policy against ‘deepfakes’ currently,” Mosseri said. “We are trying to evaluate if we wanted to do that and if so, how you would define ‘deepfakes?'” As other social networks as well as broad platforms like YouTube have experienced of late, drawing lines to define what kinds of material violates standards and is objectively out of bounds is a complex process.
“We try to balance safety and speech, and that balance is tricky,” Mosseri said.
In a separate part of the conversation previewed by CBS on Tuesday (see video above), Mosseri denied King’s assertions that the company is serving users ads based on surveillance. “We don’t look at your messages. We don’t listen in on your microphone. Doing so would be super-problematic for a number of reasons.” King countered, “I don’t believe you. I don’t know why this happens repeatedly. Does it happen to you?” Mosseri paused for a moment and said, “I’m sure it’s happened. I can’t think of a good example, though.” He added, “I get good ads. I like my ads.”
Mosseri then invited King to follow him on Instagram. That way, the next time she gets served an ad based on what she thinks was the company snooping, “You can DM me, light me up over it, and I’ll try to find out exactly what happened.”