"To set expectations, this is a really, really hard problem," Schroepfer said.
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Paradoxically, given that the earliest known deepfakes were fabricated pornography featuring female actresses, Facebook did not include any women among the seven academic supporters it listed on a blog post introducing the competition -- something that didn't go unnoticed online.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson pointed out that there are at least two female leaders involved with the project, including the Partnership on AI's executive director, Terah Lyons. He also said the company agrees that expanding diversity of those involved in the competition "will be important to its success."
Facebook has been criticized many times in the past for its failure to stop the spread of misinformation and hate speech. Deep fakes represent a new challenge for the company, though one that is still largely hypothetical.
In May, a doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went viral. The video, which was not a deepfake, appeared to show Pelosi slurring her words after a meeting with President Donald Trump. Facebook said it downranked the false video, so fewer people would see it, but the company was criticized for being slow in taking this step.
A deepfake of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has even been shared on Facebook-owned Instagram. Like the Pelosi video, this one was not taken down. Instagram said at the time that the site's algorithms wouldn't recommend people watch it if a third-party fact checker marked it false. There have also been deepfakes in which celebrities' faces are swapped with those of porn stars.
Deepfakes are becoming cheaper, faster, and easier to make, which concerns Schroepfer, among others.
Hany Farid, a professor at UC Berkeley and image-forensics expert whose lab received a grant from Facebook related to its deepfake detection research, said the competition is a big step toward solving an important problem. He said Facebook will also need to keep in mind that any technological solution must change over time, similar to the ways technology advances for stopping spam and computer viruses.
"It's always evolving because our adversaries are always evolving," he said.
Beyond that, Farid thinks Facebook needs to make some decisions about its policies regarding false videos. For now, that policy is unclear to the general public. Schroepfer said Facebook is "figuring out in parallel" what its rules regarding misinformation in general — and deepfakes in particular — should be.