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CBS News asks Facebook to remove "deepfake" video of Mark Zuckerberg with unauthorized CBSN trademark

Lawyers for CBS News have asked Facebook to take down a "deepfake" video that manipulates the words of Mark Zuckerberg, and was not authorized to use the trademark of CBSN, the streaming service of CBS News.

"CBS has requested that Facebook take down this fake, unauthorized use of the CBSN trademark," a CBS spokesperson said in a statement.

As of Wednesday evening, the video was still viewable, and Facebook said it had evaluated CBS' claim and found no violation.

"We take intellectual property rights seriously, and we've responded to CBS directly on this issue. At this time, the video remains subject to our standard process," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement.  

The real version of the video aired on CBSN in September 2017. Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, had used a public live stream to explain the company's strategy for fighting election interference.

In the fake version posted last weekend on Instagram — owned by Facebook — Zuckerberg's image and voice were manipulated to make it seem as if he was talking about amassing and wielding power by owning people's data.

"Imagine this for a second," he says in the manipulated video. "One man with total control of billions of people's stolen data. All their secrets, their lives, their futures. I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future." The video was created by an artist who is exhibiting a series of similar celebrity "deepfakes" at a gallery in Britain.

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A "deepfake" Instagram video featuring Mark Zuckerberg and a CBSN graphic.  Instagram / bill_posters_uk

CBS' legal argument is that CBSN has a commitment to accurate journalism. Therefore, an association with misinformation could create confusion among consumers — and tarnish the CBSN brand.

Last month, a video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi created by a different person was manipulated to make her appear to be slurring her words. Facebook declined to remove the video from its platform.

In May, a Facebook executive told CNN that though it did not take down the manipulated Pelosi video, it did alert users it was false. The executive said Facebook works with fact-checking organizations to identify false content. In those cases, she said Facebook will "dramatically reduce the distribution of that content."

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to CBS News Wednesday evening that the Zuckerberg video "has been fact checked as false." On Instagram, users are not alerted that videos have been rated false.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: "We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram. If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram's recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages." The spokesperson said that distribution of the video had already been curtailed.

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