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"Emotional skepticism" needed to stop spread of deepfakes on social media, expert says

As Twitter considers labeling doctored media — including the realistic-looking videos known as deepfakes — online manipulation expert Claire Wardle said social media users have to do their part to prevent fake information from being spread. People should have "emotional skepticism" about what they see, she said on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday, and be careful not to repost content just because it incites an emotional response. 

"The most effective disinformation is that that makes us scared or angry," she said. "We should develop more emotional skepticism because when we see something as we're standing in line for coffee and … we reshare it without thinking, that's by design. They want us to not be critical." 

Wardle is the co-founder and director of First Draft, a nonprofit dedicated to tackling misinformation. She recently made her face look like singer Adele in a New York Times video to show how easy it is to create a deepfake. She said labeling fake content on social media is "a good move," but she doesn't think Twitter or other social media platforms should "make decisions about what to take down."

"I want us as a society to decide, what content do we want out there on the internet?" she said.

Her advice for determining what's real or not is to consider what a trusted source is. "It's going back to where are the trusted signals?" she said. "Who has shared it? Is it a news brand that you know? You can't even trust your family, unfortunately."

And if you do share something that isn't true, you should take responsibility for it, Wardle said. She compared spreading false information to littering. 

"I talk a lot about information pollution," she said. "If we all throw garbage out of the car, we're all responsible. … If you share something false with your family, we should say, 'No, you should not have done that.' We have to hold each other to account."

Ahead of the 2020 elections, Wardle is also worried about "shallow fakes," such as a video posted in May of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was slowed down by 75% to make her appear impaired.

"That was very easy to do. It took seconds. So, as we move into next year, what I worry about is, I could take out a sentence that a politician has said and completely change the meaning. I could slow it down, I could add something. An 8-year-old with a laptop can do that," she said. "So it's so easy to do and because if we really love one politician or hate another, I don't want to check, I just want to share with everybody."

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