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Reddit Bans Deceptive Misrepresentation, Including Deepfakes, on its Platform



In yet another indicator of the potential rise of deepfakes as a weapon of misinformation, Reddit has this week updated its guidelines to outlaw the use of deceptive impersonation within its app, with specific mention of deepfake content.

Reddit rules

As per Reddit:

“We’ve been doing significant work on site integrity operations as we move into 2020 to ensure that we have the appropriate rules and processes in place to handle bad actors who are trying to manipulate Reddit, particularly around issues of great public significance, like elections. To this end, we thought it was time to update our policy on impersonation to better cover some of the use cases that we have been seeing and actioning under this rule already, as well as guard against cases we might see in the future.”

That last note it most relevant here. Right now, Facebook, Google and Twitter are each, individually, undertaking their own research on how to combat the potential rise of manipulative deepfakes, and earlier this week, Facebook announced its new policy on manipulated media, also banning “misleading manipulated videos”.

While the misuse of deepfakes hasn’t become a major issue as yet, it does seem like there’s a feeling within the industry that this is close to becoming a significant problem, and with the US Election looming, its an area that they’re all looking to get ahead of as a potential concern. 

TikTok has also released new regulations outlawing “manipulated content meant to cause harm”.

​But it’s not problem, as such, yet.

Reddit notes that:

“Impersonation is actually one of the rarest report classes we receive… [but] we also wanted to hedge against things that we haven’t seen much of to date, but could see in the future, such as malicious deepfakes of politicians, for example, or other, lower-tech forged or manipulated content that misleads.” 


Now at 430 million users, Reddit could become a platform of focus for those looking to influence the outcome of the 2020 election, and while its users are considered to be, in general, more skeptical of such claims – and thus, less open to manipulation at scale – there are dedicated subreddits on basically every subject. It’s not hard to imagine political operatives looking to grow their messaging via partisan Reddit groups.

But as noted, more relevant here is that yet another social app is taking steps to prepare for the rise of deepfakes. Despite there not seemingly being a rise in the use of deepfakes for this purpose, the increased focus on manipulated media is not coming from nowhere, there’s an underlying reason why the platforms are preparing for the next wave. The indicators would suggest that we need to also be thinking about how we can remain alert, and wary to such content, in order to avoid large scale misinformation campaigns fueled by fake videos.

It’s not happening yet, but something to watch for moving forward.  

And also, Reddit notes that its new rules don’t apply to other uses of manipulated media: 

“This doesn’t apply to all deepfake or manipulated content – just that which is actually misleading in a malicious way. Because believe you me, we like seeing Nic Cage in unexpected places just as much as you do.”

Nic Cage good, political misrepresentation bad. The tone around such is fairly tame at the moment, but definitely, deepfakes look set to become a much larger concern.



Jailed Saudi woman tweeter shrugged off risk: friend



The ability to tweak tweets after firing them off has been a feature users have long yearned for at the one-to-many messaging platform


A Saudi woman given 34 years in prison for tweets critical of the government knew people were informing on her but did not take it seriously, a friend said Thursday.

Salma al-Shehab, a member of the Shiite minority in the Sunni-ruled kingdom, had been studying for a doctorate in Britain and was arrested in January 2021 while on holiday.

On August 9 she was sentenced to 34 years in jail for aiding dissidents seeking to “disrupt public order” in the kingdom by relaying their tweets.

A friend of Shehab, who asked not to be identified for her own security, said she had not taken threats of denunciation seriously.

“We discussed people harassing her on Twitter and reporting her tweets to the security services online,” the friend told AFP.

“She didn’t think the authorities would be interested in someone with less than 2,000 followers,” she added.


Shehab now has around 3,000 followers on Twitter.

A mother of two and a PhD candidate at Britain’s University of Leeds, School of Medicine, she was also banned from travelling abroad for a further 34 years as part of the sentence.

The oil-rich Gulf state has cracked down on rights activists, many of whom have been jailed and banned from travel.

Women’s rights activists have also been targeted.

A Saudi Arabian national flag flies in Riyadh – Copyright AFP Dimitar DILKOFF

The crackdown increased after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler in 2017.

The authorities have made available an app called “Kollona Amn” (Arabic for “We are all security”) which allows “all citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia to play the role of police officer”.

It is used to report accidents or crimes — but can also be a tool to denounce political opponents.


Shehab tweeted mostly about women’s rights in the conservative country.

She was jailed just weeks after US President Joe Biden visited Saudi Arabia, a controversial trip because of the kingdom’s human rights record.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Wednesday that Washington regularly raised the issue of human rights with Riyadh.

“Exercising freedom of expression to advocate for the rights of women should not be criminalised,” he said.

Rights group Amnesty International has called for Shehab’s immediate and unconditional release. It described her jailing as “outrageous”.

On its website, the University of Leeds said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” by the development, “and are seeking advice on whether there is anything we can do to support her”.

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