JayMac: Russia lies and deep fakes? Don’t get fooled again.

Jun 12, 2019, 5:19 PM | Updated: 5:28 pm

DISCLAIMER: the following is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of KSL Newsradio or its ownership.

Like & Share. That’s how millions of Americans, unwillingly or unknowingly, helped spread Russia propaganda to interfere in the 2016 presidential election by harming Hillary Clinton’s chances and boosting Donald Trump’s.

According to the Mueller Report, at least 17 campaign officials and advisers had numerous contacts with Russian nationals, with WikiLeaks, or with intermediaries between the two.

Now, I’m not talking about President Trump’s version of Fake News — i.e. anything that doesn’t flatter him.

But a more devious type of Fake News is emerging just in time for the 2020 elections: The Deep Fake, which is artificial intelligence-based technology used to produce or alter video content so that it presents something that never happened.

It wasn’t exactly a Deep Fake, but about a month ago, a slowed-down video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, depicting her slurring her words to make her appear drunk, was shared on Facebook 2.5 million times just two days later.

Here’s another example. It looks like you’re watching former President Barack Obama speak in this clip, but it’s not actually him. It’s Jordan Peele, demonstrating what technology can do with his words and facial expressions merged onto the former president’s face.

So to avoid the manipulation that happened in the earlier election, the question becomes: How are we going to respond to Deep Fakes?

You are going to be the Weapon of Defense.

How to fight deep fakes

We ask Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to take the fake videos down. But we need to do more this time around. The only hope is if all Americans take the time to verify and research the facts. We can’t be complicit in sharing and spreading disinformation on social media and then ask our news sources and politicians to be honest. We have to do the work of checking out the information. We are The Defenders.

The only way the Russian propaganda campaign flourished in the past presidential election is because Americans were willing to comply by liking and sharing on the internet. We bear responsibility for shutting the lies down. Shut It Down. As is said in finance, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” The same is generally true in politics.

But you say, how can I know if something I’m reading or watching is Fake News?

  • Consider the source. Is the author reliable? Is there a byline on the material? Have previous posts been credible? Any red flags in the past? Investigate the website. Is there an “about us” section available?
  • Go beyond the headlines, which are sometimes just “clickbait” and designed to get you to click on them. Read the body of the post or article.
  • See who else is covering the news item. Do a Google search. Do the different versions mostly line up or corroborate each other? If not, that should sound alarm bells.
  • Does the news item use anonymous sources? Are the sources quoted? Is there more than one source.
  • Check the date of the material.

How do I know if something I’m watching is a Deep Fake?

  • Blurring evident in the face but not elsewhere in the video.
  • A change of skin tone near the edge of the face
  • Double chins, double eyebrows or double edges on the face
  • People depicted in deep-fake videos often blink far less often than humans do in real life. According to Swei Lyu, a professor at University at Albany, this method has a 95 percent detection rate.

The AI Foundation has developed Reality Defender, a program that runs alongside other online applications, identifying potentially fake media. But you are the last line of defense.

If you don’t do an internet search before liking or sharing, then you are responsible for spreading propaganda, if that’s what it turns out to be.

Don’t help Russia do their job with these deep fakes. Do the research, hunt the lie down, and crash the Russian lie machine.

Jay Mcfarland hosts the JayMac News Show, weekdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KSL Newsradio, as well as the fictional podcast, Hosts of Eden. KSL Newsradio is part of Bonneville Media and based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories


Utah's Morning News anchor Tim Hughes relays the experience he had with his wife Becki, when, after...
Tim Hughes

A relaxing vacation featuring baby turtles on the front lines of nature!

While vacationing recently, Utah's Morning News host Tim Hughes and his family had the chance to help baby turtles begin their long journey.
12 days ago
One of the hosts of Utah's Morning News, Amanda Dickson, describes the first hours of her early shi...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Takeaways from the early hours in the Utah people’s house

The Utah Capitol, sometimes called the people's house, was quiet in the first hours of the first day of the 2023 legislative session.
12 days ago
BURBANK, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 06: A cold and flu medicine shelf is empty in a CVS pharmacy on Dece...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Is everyone you know sick in Utah?

Does it seem like people are more people are sick in Utah? The numbers are there to back up that viruses — yes multiple — are working their way around.
19 days ago
Republican Party failed to vote on a new House Speaker on Tuesday. An expert joins KSL NewsRadio to...
Mark Jones

Republican Party can’t decide on House Speaker. What does this mean?

Republican Party failed to vote on a new House Speaker on Tuesday. An expert joins KSL NewsRadio to discuss what this means.
26 days ago
The Utes lose at the 109th Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif....
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: We love our Utes, lose or win at the Rose Bowl

We watched the Utes lose the final Rose Bowl game as we know it. But love them anyway — it's how you know you're a real fan.
26 days ago
University of Utah football fans cheer for their team...
Amanda Dickson

Opinion: Do real University of Utah football fans travel with the team?

If you don't travel with the University of Utah football team, does that mean you're not a rabid fan? Is there a way to be a fan from home?
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
JayMac: Russia lies and deep fakes? Don’t get fooled again.