Facebook removes ‘deepfake’ of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy

On Wednesday, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, removed a deepfake video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy issuing a statement that he never made, asking Ukrainians to “lay down arms.”

The deepfake appears to have been first broadcasted on a Ukrainian news website for TV24 after an alleged hack, as first reported by Sky News on Wednesday. The video shows an edited Zelenskyy speaking behind a podium declaring that Ukraine has “decided to return Donbas” to Russia and that his nation’s war efforts had failed.

In the video, Zelenskyy’s head is comically larger than in real life and is more pixelated than his surrounding body. The fake voice is much deeper than his real voice as well.

Meta’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, put out a tweet thread on Wednesday announcing that the video had been removed from the company’s platforms. “Earlier today, our teams identified and removed a deepfake video claiming to show President Zelensky issuing a statement he never did. It appeared on a reportedly compromised website and then started showing across the internet,” Gleicher said.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian government issued a statement warning soldiers and civilians to take pause when they encounter videos of Zelenskyy online, especially if he announces a surrender to Russian invasion. In the statement, the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications said that the Russian government would likely use deepfakes to convince Ukrainians to surrender.

“Videos made through such technologies are almost impossible to distinguish from the real ones. Be aware – this is a fake! His goal is to disorient, sow panic, disbelieve citizens and incite our troops to retreat,” the statement said. “Rest assured – Ukraine will not capitulate!”

After the deepfake started to circulate across the internet, Zelenskyy posted a video to his official Instagram account debunking the video. “As for the latest childish provocation with advice to lay down arms, I only advise that the troops of the Russian Federation lay down their arms and return home,” he said. “We are at home and defending Ukraine.”

Facebook banned deepfakes and other manipulated videos from its platforms in 2020 ahead of the US presidential election. The policy includes content created by artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms that could “likely mislead” users.

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Tech News

Google Assistant shortcut test removes hotword for certain tasks

Saying ‘Hey Google’ for every small thing can get annoying, but the hotword serves an important purpose: it lets the voice assistant know when you’re addressing it. For this reason, completely eliminating the hotword isn’t practical, but shortcuts may prove useful in certain limited cases. That’s the idea behind a feature in testing codenamed ‘Guacamole,’ but it’s still in testing.

According to 9to5Google, the Guacamole feature made its appearance in Google app version 12.8 last month, but it’s not something the average user can access at this time. It seems the feature is not included in the Android 12 Developer Preview, but it was recently noted that a setting page for the shortcut has appeared in the app.

The menu page has a brief explanation for the feature, which is listed in the app under the Guacamole name: “Skip saying ‘Hey Google’ for help with quick tasks.’” Users who toggle on the feature could, once it’s available (assuming it ever becomes a regular feature) use the shortcut to avoid saying the hotword for specific tasks.

The report claims these tasks will include things like answering calls, snoozing alarms, and turning off timers. There’s an obvious reason for the shortcuts in these instances — when an alarm is actively blaring, for example, it would make sense for Google Assistant to perceive the word ‘Stop’ as an order to turn it off even if the user doesn’t say ‘Hey Google’ first. The same goes for saying ‘Answer’ when you’re actively getting a call.

It wouldn’t be surprising for Google to introduce this feature; the Nest Hub already supports stopping alarms sans the hotword, for example. It’s unclear when the feature will roll out for everyone — it’s limited to internal testing at this time — and what it will be called when it goes live in the app.

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Tech News

Designtly removes the headaches and mistakes of building a Shopify store by doing it for you

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TLDR: Designtly uses all their Shopify knowledge to create and make sure your new Shopify online storefront is up and running, then teaches you how to run it on your own. 

Did you know there is a company that sells boxer briefs for women? You may not have heard of TomboyX when they got started making less girly clothing designs for women with $76,000 in Kickstarter seed funding back in 2013, but their little Shopify store has tripled in sales since.

How did they do it? Well, that’s the real secret sauce, isn’t it?  

While it never hurts to have a great idea like womens’ boxers, a big piece of a business’ Shopify success can also just come just from knowing the platform, all its hidden features, and how to use them.

Designtly can put you in position to reap all the rewards of a top-notch Shopify digital storefront, but without all the laborious months of trial and error to get there. Right now, Designtly can take all that headache clean out of your hands at almost 75 percent off its regular price, only $250 from TNW Deals. 

Designtly is kind of like the Uber of online retailing. A registered Shopify partner, you can hand the keys to your site creation over to Designtly — and let them do the driving.

Just come to Designtly with what you need. Once they’ve got your website content, product information, and more, they get to work, whipping up a cool online store location that takes full advantage of everything the Shopify platform has to offer. They set up your domain, choose site themes, work out site navigation, everything.

And that means a lot more than just some cool graphics. Designtly will set up all your product collections, payment methods, shipping options, and more. And they promise it’ll all be up and running within 15 business days.

Once your new business has flung open its doors, Designtly’s job isn’t finished. With operations now underway, Designtly will take you behind the curtain, explaining what they did and teaching you how to take the reins and manage this fledgling enterprise all by yourself.

You could usually expect to pay $999 for Designtly to get your new online business on the road, but with the current offer, those services are now almost 75 percent off at just $250.

Prices are subject to change.

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