Deepfake video of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Instagram

The social network has come under fire for how it handles manipulated video.

Queenie Wong Former Senior Writer
Queenie Wong was a senior writer for CNET News, focusing on social media companies including Facebook's parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok. Before joining CNET, she worked for The Mercury News in San Jose and the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. A native of Southern California, she took her first journalism class in middle school.
Expertise I've been writing about social media since 2015 but have previously covered politics, crime and education. I also have a degree in studio art. Credentials
  • 2022 Eddie award for consumer analysis
Queenie Wong
3 min read

A couple of artists teamed up with an advertising company to make the deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg. 

James Martin

The video on Instagram shows what appears to be Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving a brief speech about the power of big data. 

"Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures. I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future."

Zuckerberg never uttered those words. The video was a "deepfake," a technique that uses AI to create videos of people saying something they didn't, highlighting the challenges social networks face when it comes to policing manipulated content. 

The Zuckerberg video could also be a test for Facebook, which has come under fire after it refused to remove an altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed to make her seem drunk, according to Vice, which reported earlier on the video. Zuckerberg called Pelosi but she wasn't "eager" to hear what he had to say, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. 

Facebook's policy states that it doesn't remove fake news but will reduce its reach on the site and show information from fact-checkers. It owns photo sharing site Instagram.

"We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram," a spokesperson for the photo sharing site said. "If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram's recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages." 

Fact-checker Lead Stories, which called the video "art," said in a post that it's flagging the video as satire and this will not harm the video's distribution. Users will see a warning label that it isn't real.

Artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe partnered with advertising company Canny to make the video. It was created using CannyAI's video dialogue replacement (VDR) technology, according to the Instagram post. The creators of the video used footage from remarks Zuckerberg made about Russian election interference in 2017. The video includes a CBS logo on the right side and includes a label that says "Zuckerberg: We're increasing transparency on ads."

A spokesperson for CBS, which owns CNET, said in a statement that it asked Facebook to "take down this fake, unauthorized use of the CBSN trademark."

Canny has also teamed up with Posters to create fake videos of President Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian. Spectre, referenced in the video, is an art exhibit that took place at the Sheffield Doc Fest in the UK. The Zuckerberg video was posted four days ago. Posters didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

This isn't the first time a fake video of Zuckerberg has been created. In 2018, filmmaker Andrew Oleck posted a video on Facebook that showed what appears to be Zuckerberg stating that he was deleting the social network, fooling some users into thinking it was real, according to Gizmodo. The video, titled "A World Without Facebook," was viewed more than 32 million times, but the video that was embedded in the Gizmodo article is currently unavailable. Versions of that video, though, are still on Facebook and YouTube.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are concerned about the use of deepfakes in the 2020 US presidential election. On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on manipulated media and "deepfakes."

Originally published June 11 at 2:31 p.m. PT.
Update, 6:49 p.m. PT: Includes statement from CBS and information from fact-checker.