Researchers From LUMS Win Facebook Research Award 2020

Have you ever used filters on your Snapchat? Of course, you have! We love filters that can make us look older, younger, or just outright funny. However, a sinister extension of this technology, appropriately named ‘Deepfake’, can recreate anyone’s voice and video with unprecedented accuracy and can be used to project fake identities of influential people to create anarchy, distrust and political polarisation.

Dr. Ayesha Ali from the Economics department at the LUMS School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and Dr. Ihsan Ayyub Qazi and Dr. Agha Ali Raza from the Computer Science department at the LUMS School of Science and Engineering have just won the prestigious Facebook Research Award that puts us in the right spot to develop and test our in-house deepfake-busting technology.

This year, Facebook received over 1,000 proposals from 600 institutions and 77 countries around the world and only 25 proposals were selected for funding. This is the second time in a row that our faculty have won this highly selective award and will provide funding of USD 90,000 to ensure that people’s identities are protected and our society is safe from cyber criminals.

The recipients of the award state that their work aims to answer two primary questions; first,   among populations with low digital literacy, how do users perceive, consume and engage with non-textual misinformation (such as audio deepfakes) and what role prior beliefs and analytical ability play in forming perceptions about the accuracy of misinformation. Second, how can we educate users with lower levels of digital literacy to identify non-textual misinformation (for example, the audio messages impersonating public figures) and bring about behavioral changes such as reducing polarisation.

We congratulate Drs. Ayesha, Ihsan and Agha on this milestone achievement!

The original announcement from Facebook can be accessed here.