Instagram says it won’t take down AI-generated fake Mark Zuckerberg video

Instagram will refrain from taking down an ultra realistic “deepfake video” posted Tuesday of Facebook’s CEO bragging about controlling billions of people’s “stolen” personal data.

“Imagine this for a second: one man with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures,” an AI-generated Mark Zuckerberg says in the video.

“I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data controls the future.”

The video was shared by British artist Bill Posters as part of the promotion for his project “Spectre,” which looks at the outsize influence of technology and social media.

“We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram,” said an Instagram spokesperson.

“If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram’s recommendation surfaces.”

“Spectre,” which is named after the secret villanous organisation from the James Bond films, aims to discuss the power of digital influencers and information online, as well as what can or cannot be believed.

According to his website, Posters and fellow artist Daniel Howe teamed up with AI startups to create “deepfake” videos of celebrities ranging from Kim Kardashian to President Donald Trump saying ridiculous things.

The video of Zuckerberg manipulates an actual statement from the CEO, and refers to Facebook’s recent controversies over both stolen user data and one such manipulated video.

Facebook recently came under fire for refusing to block the sharing of a video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to make her appear drunk or impaired.

Pelosi called on the social media giant to block the video, saying Facebook “knows that this is false.”

Hackers could be taking DM route to hijack your Twitter accounts, say experts

With the Twitter accounts of megastar Amitabh Bachchan and singer Adnan Sami getting hacked, security researchers have warned that users should think twice before clicking on the links received in the Twitter Direct Message (DMs).

While Bachchan’s Twitter account was hacked late on Monday, the hackers took control of Sami’s Twitter account on Tuesday.

A group that goes by the name “Ayyildiz Tim Turkish Cyber Army” claimed responsibility for hacking both the high-profile accounts.

“Their modus operandi looks like they sending DM (Twitter Direct Message) to the victims Twitter account and if the victim opens the DM (direct message) he/she is directed to a phishing page which looks like a genuine page,” Sanjay Katkar, Joint Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Quick Heal Technologies Ltd. told IANS.

“If the user fills the login credentials on this page his login information is gone to the hackers who later use it to login and change the original password and take control of the account,” he said, adding that there are even other ways a Twitter account can get compromised.

Users with large number of followers should switch on the two-factor authentication for their account, Katkar said.

French security researcher who uses the pseudonym Elliot Alderson pointed to a user who goes by the name Kerem Sah Noyan on Twitter and uses the handle @NoyanAyt2002 as the person behind the hack.

“Few hours ago, the account of @SrBachchan with his 37.4M followers has been hacked. There is a high probability that the hacker is @NoyanAyt2002,” Alderson tweeted.

“Guess who is the last person followed by @SrBachchan? Obviously @NoyanAyt2002,” he added.

“To sum up: The hacker of @SrBachchan’s account is @NoyanAyt2002. He is part of team called “Turkish Cyber Army Ayyildiz Tim”. He hacked at least 8 “big” Twitter accounts before that including @dalermehndi, @divyadutta25, @ErosNow, @bmwindia, @dalermehndi, @yanisvaroufakis,” Alderson added.

Twitter only contacts users in-app or via an email sent from an @twitter.com email address. The platform never ask users to provide their password via email, Direct Message, or reply.

“All the social media services (Twitter/Instagram/Facebook etc,) have the security and privacy feature of two factor authentication. This will make it difficult for hacker to take control of your social media account,” Katkar said.

“I will also recommend everyone to go and read/check/understand all the settings under security and privacy of your social media account. It has lot of features to keep your account safe,” he added.

What is fetal tissue research? And why is it important to medicine?

Doctors and scientists are denouncing the Trump administration’s decision to cut funding for research that uses fetal tissue, saying that the material is essential for life-saving medical research.

The administration announced Wednesday that it would drastically cut federal spending on medical research that uses “fetal tissue from elective abortions.” The move will affect multimillion-dollar research projects at the National Institutes of Health and the University of California, San Francisco.

Supporters of the administration’s decision have likened the research to a marketplace that deals in “aborted baby body parts.” That kind of language can elicit a visceral reaction. Researchers strongly disagree with that portrayal, however, and say fetal tissue research projects are meticulously vetted.

“There’s a misconception that fetal tissue research is the wild, Wild West,” said Ellie Dehoney, vice president of policy and advocacy for Research!America, a nonprofit group that advocates for scientific research.

“There’s a very careful look at every research grant. If a project makes the cut, it means there is a belief by scientists not involved in research that there’s a beneficial purpose for advancing science,” Dehoney told NBC News.

Indeed, the American Medical Association, which supports fetal tissue research, has a detailed code of ethics for how to carry out such research.

Sam Hawgood, the chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, said the university’s research using fetal tissue to find a cure for HIV — now halted by the administration’s action — was based in sound science. “UCSF exercised appropriate oversight and complied with all state and federal laws,” he said in a statement.

Why is fetal tissue used in research?

Scientists use fetal tissue as a source of fetal cells. These cells have been used for research since the 1930s, and the government has funded such research since the 1950s, when it was used to create one of the biggest medical advances of the 20th century: the polio vaccine.

Since then, fetal cells have been used in hundreds of thousands of other research projects. Scientists have used them to create other vaccines, such as the rubella vaccine, and to improve a wide variety of techniques used in medicine, such as in vitro fertilization. They are also used to study birth defects, eye diseases, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS and spinal cord injuries.

Scientists say fetal cells are superior to adult cells mainly because they can transform into any cell in the body. They also replicate quickly, and don’t have the same immune response as adult cells.

This means researchers can inject them into lab mice to study human diseases without the risk of the cells being rejected by the animals’ immune systems.

A ban or strict limitation on fetal tissue research would be “catastrophic,” said Dr. Elias Zambidis, a pediatric oncologist at Johns Hopkins who does research on stem cells.

NASA says the International Space Station is open for business — but not in economy class

It’s official: The International Space Station is open for business. If you can afford it.

Speaking at the Nasdaq Stock Exchange in New York, NASA officials on Friday unveiled a plan to allow private companies to make use of the space station starting next year.

The plan would allow up to two private astronaut missions per year to visit the space station for up to 30 days and offer companies the opportunity to conduct experiments and pursue other activities there. NASA would also devote one docking port to private operations, which might include attaching an additional module to the station.

Private astronauts will be able to fly to the station aboard a commercial capsule, such as SpaceX’s Crew Dragon or Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner — both of which are still in development and have yet to carry humans. A flight to the space station will likely cost about $58 million per passenger, with a stay at the station costing roughly $35,000 per night for each astronaut, said Jeff DeWit, chief financial officer at NASA headquarters.

“We have no idea what kind of creativity and literally out-of-this-world ideas can come from private industry,” Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in Washington, said at the New York event.

Gerstenmaier called the plan a key transition in the life of the space station, which has been orbiting Earth for two decades. “Think about how this space station that we put together to do research, education and outreach is now going to be used to put together a business model,” he said. “How could we ever imagine that this space station would have any role, when it was originally designed, in developing new business markets.”

Opening the station to commercial ventures will enable the space agency to focus its resources on returning astronauts to the moon and a subsequent mission to Mars. “NASA by its very nature is an exploration agency,” Gerstenmaier said.

Robyn Gatens, deputy director of the space station program at NASA headquarters in Washington, said the first commercial flights to the station could begin in 2020.

The first components used to build the station were launched into space in 1998. The space lab, constructed entirely in low-Earth orbit, is a partnership of the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia and 11 members states of the European Space Agency.