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Political clips are not much more convincing than the text: Study


The image for the article titled Deepfakes may not be exactly the political apocalypse we feared, MIT researchers have discovered

Photography: Alexandra Robinson (Getty Images)

Ever since we saw deep fake as they appear porn,, e-commerce, and literally bank robberies, it always has been concerns that the same technology could be used for interference future elections. Well, according to one new study, that might be harder than we thought. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) reported a new report investigates whether he is a political video the clips might be more convincing than their text counterparts, and the answer is … not really.

“Concerns about video-based political persuasion are prevalent in both popular and academic circles, based on the assumption that video is more convincing than text,” the researchers wrote in their paper. This is a point we have heard again from legislators over the years, since deepfakes first appeared on their radar in in the middle of 2019. When Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced Deepfake Taskforce Act last summer, Portman noted in statement that deepfakes posed a “unique threat” to national security.

“In most human history, seeing meant believing, but now it’s becoming less and less true thanks to deepfakes,” Portman said at the time. “Combined with the network effects created by social networks, fake videos or images can travel the world in an instant, deceiving citizens.”

To assess how effective this technology would be in cheating at any time, the MIT team conducted two series of studies, including close to 7,600 participants from the surrounding area. U.S. In both studies, these participants were divided into three different groups. In some cases, the former was asked to look at a randomly selected “politically persuasive” political advertisement (you can see examples of what they used here), or a popular political clip about a covid-19 downloaded from YouTube. The second group got a transcription of those randomly selected commercials and clips, and the third group got, well, nothing since they acted as a control group.

Afterwards, each member of each group was given a questionnaire asking them to rate the “credibility” of the message they saw or read – specifically, do they believe that the people in the video really did a special claim. They were then asked to rate how much they disagreed with the essential point from any compelling ad they saw.

The question these MIT researchers were trying to answer was twofold: Was a vision in fact believing, as Portman (and countless others) said? I if so, as much as anyone’s opinion could in fact be influenced by video or text?

The result? “Overall, we find that individuals are more likely to believe that an event occurred when it is presented in a video than a textual form,” the study said. In other words, the results confirmed that, yes, to see is to believe, as far as participants are concerned. But when researchers dug into the numbers around persuasion, the difference between the two media was barely noticeable, if at all.

As one of the researchers behind the project, Adam Berinski, noticed statement about work, ”[J]Just because a video is more convincing doesn’t mean it can change people’s minds. ”

Of course this study (as well as all academic studies) comes with a fair share of warnings. First, although 7,600 people is a fairly large sample size, it may not cover the full range of opinions that every American voter could have. And as the researchers point out in their paper, the small compelling advantage that video has over text could actually be even smaller outside the research environment:

In both of our studies, textual treatments are presented in the form of a detailed transcript containing the exact replication of the audio output, as well as a comprehensive description of the key visual cues. In reality, politically persuasive writing can be structured quite differently (e.g., as a newspaper article or opinion).

But even if this is the case, the study notes that the information presented through the video has the unique advantage that the text simply does not exist: A video attracts more attention and can attract more audiences than a written report could ever.

“It’s possible that in real life things are a little different.” David Rand, one of the other authors of the study, noted in a statement.

“It’s possible that as you scroll through your newsfeed, video catches your attention more than text,” he added. “You are more likely to look at it. That doesn’t mean the video itself is more compelling than the text – just that it has the potential to reach a wider audience. “

In other words: Aat least as far as this study is concerned, deep fake videos of a particular politician are unlikely to affect people’s political views more than fake news about that same politician. The only advantage a video can have is whether you believe what you see in front of you — and the number of eyeballs that the footage might eventually get.



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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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