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News Literacy Week: Looking for manipulated video

Posted at 8:06 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 21:06:06-05

KATC and our parent company, The E.W. Scripps Company, have partnered with the News Literacy Project, a nonpartisan education nonprofit to help the next generation of news consumers discern credible information from misinformation in today’s media.

News literacy teaches that all information is not created equal. Our objective is to raise awareness that news literacy is a fundamental life skill that helps create a healthy democracy, and to provide students, educators and the general public with the tools to determine what information they should trust, share and act on.

Today we take a look at how to spot manipulated videos online.

From a video of Queen Elizabeth II rapping, to a clip of Tom Cruise announcing his intent to run for office, deepfake videos can be harmless fun. Special effects to make anyone seem to be saying anything. Manipulated videos can also be dangerous - a form of propaganda or misinformatoin, and a national threat when you can believably control the words of world leaders.

The Defense Department has been funding work of engineers, including Siwei Lyu at the University of Buffalo, in a high-tech arms race to outsmart media manipulators.

"This line of work is like a cat and mouse game," explained Lyu.

The Pentagon's goal is to build a platform able to instantly and forensically analyze videos for the subtle hallmarks of a faker's handiwork. For example, doctored videos often rely on images found online, and those aren't likely to include pictures of someone blinking.

Developers are working on a way to embed authentication codes in media, serving the same reassuring function as a blue check on Twitter or watermark on a $100 bill.

Even a low-tech forgery, a shallow fake, can be convincing.

Somebody simply slowed down video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make it appear she was slurring her words. It was not a deepfake, but instead a cheap fake. But one still viewed millions of times.

Lyu said as with the pandemic, our own behavior can help stop the spread of falsified media.

"Don't get swayed by a really sensational, interesting video and just watch it for half a second," Lyu said. "We need to be very careful about what we are seeing, and you know, be vigilant."

This story is part of KATC's News Literacy Week. Find more stories from this week below and learn more at

KATC participates in second annual News Literacy Week

News Literacy Week starts today

News Literacy Week: Manipulated Content

News Literacy Week: Recognizing manipulated content

News Literacy Week: Spotting Fake Political News

News Literacy Week: Spotting fake political news

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