WilmerHale Senior Associate Matthew Ferraro has authored an article on disinformation for CNN Business Perspectives.
Last month, a video that appeared to show House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slurring her words went viral on social media.
This video, which was edited and slowed for effect, was viewed millions of times, and political opponents used it to question Pelosi’s health.The video represents a rudimentary example of the next chapter of disinformation — realistic, artificial intelligence-enhanced forged videos known as “deep fakes” that can make it look like people are doing things they never did and saying things they never said.Politicians have raised the alarm about the threat such fakes pose to politics.
But what is less often discussed — yet just as dangerous — is the threat deep fakes and disinformation more generally poses to corporations, brands and markets. We have already begun to see the effects of the intentional and covert dissemination of false information on businesses, even without the added dangers of manipulated videos.
For example, in August 2017, a pediatric medical practice in Pittsburgh posted a video about the importance of the HPV vaccine only to find itself inundated by thousands of false negative user reviews.
The origin? Anti-vaccination activists in 36 states and eight countries who coordinated the deluge.The same month, tweets with the Starbucks company logo claimed the coffee chain was hosting a “Dreamer Day” and offering free drinks to undocumented immigrants for a limited time. Starbucks was forced to respond on social media that the tweets were untrue.
In October 2018, after semiconductor giant Broadcom announced its intention to acquire CA Technologies for $19 billion, a memorandum made to look like it came from the US Department of Defense warned that the US government would review the transaction for potential national security threats. Broadcom’s shares fell when the memo was exposed as a forgery.