Meta’s Manipulated Media Policy Criticized by Oversight Board

Meta’s manipulated media policy has come under fire from its own Oversight Board, with the board calling it “incoherent” and stating that it places too much emphasis on whether a video was altered through artificial intelligence, rather than focusing on the harm it could cause. This critique comes despite the board’s decision to uphold Meta’s choice to allow a manipulated video of President Joe Biden to remain on its platform.

The video in question features real footage of President Biden from October 2022, where he places an “I Voted” sticker above his adult granddaughter’s chest, as instructed by her. However, the video, which was posted as early as January 2023, loops the moment when Biden’s hand reaches her chest, creating the false impression that he inappropriately touched her. In a version posted in May 2023, the caption even goes as far as calling Biden a “sick pedophile.”

While Meta argued that the video did not violate its manipulated media policy, as it only bans videos that make it seem like someone said something they didn’t, the Oversight Board agreed with this interpretation. The board found that the average user was unlikely to believe that the video was unaltered due to the obvious looping edit. Despite this, the board expressed concerns about the overall policy and called for significant changes to be made.

The Oversight Board criticized Meta’s manipulated media policy for lacking persuasive justification, being incoherent and confusing to users, and failing to clearly specify the harms it aims to prevent. In other words, the policy was deemed insufficient. The board emphasized the need for a reconsideration of the policy, particularly in light of the upcoming elections in 2024. It proposed that the policy should encompass cases where video or audio is edited to make it seem like someone did something they didn’t, regardless of whether it is based on their words.

Additionally, the board expressed its skepticism regarding the logic of basing these decisions on how a post was edited, regardless of whether it involved artificial intelligence or more basic editing techniques. After consulting experts and public comments, the board concluded that non-AI-altered content can be just as misleading. However, the board did not advocate for the removal of all altered posts. Instead, it suggested that less restrictive measures could be employed, such as labeling significantly edited videos to inform users.

It is important to note that the Oversight Board was established by Meta to review content moderation decisions and issue binding judgments on appeals. In addition to these judgments, the board is also empowered to make policy recommendations that Meta can choose to implement. As such, the board’s critiques of Meta’s manipulated media policy hold significant weight and should be carefully considered by the company.

A spokesperson from Meta has stated that the company is currently reviewing the recommendations put forth by the Oversight Board. As per the bylaws, Meta is required to respond publicly within 60 days. It remains to be seen how Meta will address the board’s concerns and whether any changes to the manipulated media policy will be implemented.

The Oversight Board’s critique of Meta’s manipulated media policy highlights the need for clearer, more comprehensive guidelines. The board’s recommendation to reconsider the policy, along with its call for coverage of non-AI-altered content, emphasizes the potential for harm caused by misleading edits. It is now up to Meta to seriously consider these recommendations and take appropriate action to ensure the integrity of its platform and the protection of its users.

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