Meta’s Oversight Board assesses its handling of explicit deep fakes

April 18, 2024

  • Meta's Oversight Board criticized the platform's handling of deep fakes
  • Two women were implicated in deep fakes that went unmoderated
  • They've asked for the public to contribute opinions on the incident
AI Meta

The Oversight Board is an independent body of experts established by Meta in 2020 to review the company’s most challenging content moderation decisions on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads. 

It announced on Tuesday that it will review Meta’s handling of two cases involving AI-generated sexually explicit images depicting female public figures.

The board has 20 members worldwide, including lawyers, human rights advocates, journalists, and academics.

It operates independently from Meta, with its own staff and budget, and can make binding decisions on content that Meta must implement unless doing so would violate the law. 

The board can also issue non-binding policy recommendations to Meta.

In a blog post, the Oversight Board stated, “Today, the Board is announcing two new cases for consideration. As part of this, we are inviting people and organizations to submit public comments.”

The first case involves an explicit AI-generated image posted on Instagram designed to depict a public figure from India. 

According to the Board, “The image has been created using artificial intelligence (AI) to resemble a public figure from India. The account that posted this content only shares AI-generated images of Indian women. The majority of users who reacted have accounts in India, where deepfakes are increasingly becoming a problem.”

The second case pertains to an image posted in a Facebook group dedicated to AI creations, featuring an AI-generated nude woman resembling an American public figure being groped by a man. 

The Oversight Board noted, “It features an AI-generated image of a nude woman with a man groping her breast. The image has been created with AI to resemble an American public figure, who is also named in the caption. The majority of users who reacted have accounts in the United States.”

Initially, Meta allowed the image of the Indian public figure to remain on Instagram but later removed it for violating its Bullying and Harassment Community Standard after the Oversight Board selected the case for review. 

Meta removed the image of the American public figure for violating the same policy, specifically the clause prohibiting “derogatory sexualized photoshop or drawings.”

The Oversight Board stated that it “selected these cases to assess whether Meta’s policies and its enforcement practices are effective at addressing explicit AI-generated imagery. This case aligns with the Board’s gender strategic priority.”

As part of its review process, the Oversight Board is seeking public comments on various aspects of the cases, including “the nature and gravity of harms posed by deep fake pornography,” “contextual information about the use and prevalence of deep fake pornography globally,” and “strategies for how Meta can address deep fake pornography on its platforms.”

The public comment period will remain open for 14 days, closing on April 30th. The Oversight Board will then deliberate on the cases and issue its decisions, which will be binding on Meta. Any policy recommendations the Board makes will be non-binding, but Meta must respond to them within 60 days.

The Oversight Board’s announcement comes in the thick of growing concerns about the proliferation of non-consensual deep fake pornography targeting women, particularly celebrities. 

Taylor Swift was the most prolific target, with AI-generated explicit images of the singer triggering a digital manhunt for the perpetrator. 

In response to the increasing threat of deep fake pornography, legislators introduced the DEFIANCE Act in January, which would allow victims of non-consensual deep fakes to sue if they could prove the content was made without their consent. 

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sponsored the bill and was herself a target of deep fake pornography, emphasized the need for Congress to act to support victims as deep fakes become more accessible.

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Sam Jeans

Sam is a science and technology writer who has worked in various AI startups. When he’s not writing, he can be found reading medical journals or digging through boxes of vinyl records.


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