Editorial: The evolution of fake news

More misinformation than ever

We’re just five months away from the next federal election and there’s a lot to worry about that voters haven’t had on their plate before.

More than just judging which candidate seems the best qualified and most likely to do a good job—or at least not do a lot of damage—voters are going to have to contend with social media.

It’s a huge change from the last election, or the one before that. Back then, social media—Twitter, Facebook and the like—were relatively new, and candidates were using it to reach out more to their communities, interacting full time rather than just at scripted campaign rallies.

We began to know them as people, or at least as the people they wanted us to think they were.

That’s changed. The social media is now filled with as much bad information as good, perhaps more. Along with our news articles, there will be lots of opinions out there from people you know and even more from people you don’t; on everything from the local candidate to the party leader.

And as we strive to bring you the best coverage, there is the opposite, what’s come to be known by the term fake news—everything from minor misinformation to out and out faked news stories, all designed to sway your vote by fair means or foul.

The latest addition to this category is deepfakes, where, as an article in The Guardian put it, “The truth goes to die.”

Altered photos have been a problem for years, though most are easy to spot. Deepfakes takes that to a whole new level, creating a video where you can have anyone say anything you want.

Want to see Andrew Scheer endorse Justin Trudeau? Or watch the prime minister say he is voting Green this fall?

Deepfakes can do that for you. And the technology is getting better every day.

There’s already a lot of distrust when it comes to politician’s promises, but deepfakes is going to take that to a whole new level.

This fall, and every election thereafter, voters are going to have to do a good job of educating themselves, not just on parties and issues, but on when and how they are being lied to.

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