Megan Thee Stallion is the latest victim of deepfake pornography

Happy Tuesday! Here’s your Tuesday Tech Drop, the week’s top stories from the intersection of politics and the seemingly all-encompassing world of technology.

Megan Thee Stallion speaks out against A.I. pornography

The rapper Megan Thee Stallion appears to be the latest celebrity victim in the disturbing trend of nonconsensual deepfake pornography. The artist, whose open celebration of her sensuality has made her a target for misogynistic rap fans, seemed to be responding to deepfake vides that circulated online. NBC News reported viewing 18 posts on social media platform X that contained the fake video, some of which were later removed.

States are working to make the phenomenon of deepfake pornography illegal, as there is currently no federal law on the books. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., has said she’s also been a victim of deepfake pornography and is among the most vocal lawmakers in Congress calling for legislation to combat the trend. 

Read more at The Root

Battle of the billionaires

LinkedIn co-founder and liberal financier Reid Hoffman wrote an op-ed for The Economist, speaking out against tech executives and other rich elites who are throwing their weight behind Donald Trump. Hoffman argues that in looking out for their own bottom lines via the more favorable tax rates Trump has promised, they are spurning the success they’ve seen under President Joe Biden, while underestimating Trump’s illiberal behavior. 

He wrote: 

Unfortunately, many American business leaders have recently developed a kind of myopia, miscalculating what politics, and which political leaders, will truly support their long-term success. Perhaps this stems from their having lived their entire lives in a stable legal regime that they now take for granted. But a robust, reliable legal system is not a given. It is a necessity we can ill afford to live without. We trade it away at our peril. Which makes it all the more lamentable that a growing number of America’s corporate and financial leaders are opening their wallets for Donald Trump.

Read the whole thing at The Economist

Connectivity issues

Congress allowed a major pandemic-era subsidy that provided internet access to millions of Americans to expire at the end of May. The Biden administration has worked out a deal with internet providers to keep costs low until Congress (hopefully) passes another round of funding for the subsidies. In the meantime, some Americans may be at risk of losing access. As NPR notes, the potential lack of internet access jeopardizes some crucial lifelines, like telehealth appointments, for Americans in need.

Read more at NPR

GOP goes all-in on anti-Biden deepfakes

The Washington Post has an article outlining how Republicans are using so-called cheap fakes and other manipulated videos from Biden’s D-Day commemoration appearance to misrepresent the president’s health and mental fitness. It’s certainly not the first time right-wingers have used manipulated video to portray Trump’s political opponent as being in poor health. 

Read more at The Washington Post

Elon’s Apple fury

Apple announced a partnership with the artificial intelligence giant OpenAI, the creator of A.I. chatbot ChatGPT, to integrate its technology into Apple devices. Technology mogul Elon Musk, who is trying to develop his own A.I. tools to compete with OpenAI, is apparently furious and has threatened to ban Apple devices at his companies over what he claims are privacy issues. It’s truly an ironic line of attack, given the security issues his own social media platform have exhibited in the past.

Read more at CNBC.

Trump-friendly media

Talking Points Memo has details on a bizarre business arrangement between the Trump campaign and Right Side Broadcast Network, an outlet known for its overt pro-Trump propaganda (despite its leadership’s claims of independence and objectivity). The story epitomizes the Trump campaign’s reliance on right-wing news outlets to spread its messaging.

Read more at TPM.

AI and climate change

Writer Dave Roberts hosted a discussion with artificial intelligence researcher Alp Kucukelbir about the potential uses of A.I. for stemming the effects of climate change. The conversation is a refreshing look at the positive potential of artificial intelligence at a time when its misuses and abuses — like its deployment in the creation of deepfakes — are getting the headlines. 

Listen to the conversation here

Another trial-related social media hoax

My colleague Jordan Rubin has a post over on Deadline: Legal Blog about the right-wing hysteria over a debunked claim that a juror leaked news of Trump’s criminal conviction in New York to a family member who shared the news on Facebook ahead of the verdict. Conservatives earlier pushed similarly false claims that the wife of the judge in Trump’s civil fraud trial had posted anti-Trump attacks on her social media account when she had not.

Read Jordan’s post here.

YouTube’s firearm policy

YouTube announced last week that it is restricting users under 18 from viewing some content related to firearms. 

“Starting June 18, 2024, certain content showing how to remove safety devices will be prohibited. Content showing the use of homemade firearms, automatic firearms, and certain firearm accessories will be age restricted,” according to YouTube. 

Read the announcement here. And read The Hill’s reporting on the announcement here

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