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And why you should avoid them.
A few days ago, Project Veritas published leaked tapes documenting editorial malpractice at media companies such as CNN. Technological illiterates, including many prominent media officials, were quick to baselessly accuse its editor, James O’Keefe of faking the video. Let’s understand why.
First, at this point proprietary deepfake-detecting algorithms have been run by all major actors and no discrepancies were found. This means one of two things: Project Veritas possesses technology far more advanced than Google, Facebook, top universities and the U.S. military, or the video is legitimate (description of this process here).
So, what lead to these irrational and preemptive accusations? First of all, Project Veritas has a questionable track record. They have made partisan right accusations, drawn mistaken conclusions from their evidence, and used coercion to obtain information. However, the logical extension of this to video-doctoring is a non-sequitur, as well as impossible for the reasons described above. Moreover, like many tabloid sources, some of Project Veritas’ reporting happens to be correct. A lower bound based on a scroll through their history shows 60% accuracy at the very least.
These technologically illiterate attacks actually signify a more worrying trend in American media: the association game. Many traditional media figures fell victim to the generalization fallacy, assuming that since Veritas has published false stories in the past, every story it publishes must be false. Nonetheless, this is considered a valid line of argument in major American channels, leading to radio silence on otherwise nation-concerning issues.
In order to change this, broad awareness of this fallacious thinking must become a norm in media circles, as it is in most developed democracies. Ultimately, this story is an indictment of the failure for American journalists to understand the most basic of policies and yet another call for the lifting of journalistic standards.