Videos depicting celebrities and prominent public figures that turn out to be fake, also known as ‘deep fakes’ are getting out of hand and Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, is the latest victim as a video of the Republican primary election candidate went viral this weekend.
Multiple Twitter accounts shared a short clip of DeSantis being served a meal at a restaurant and uttering the phrase “Hmmmm hungwy”. Although the video was harmless in terms of the content that it showed, the fact that it was hard to tell if it was him or the audio was altered is a cause of concern.
Bad Lip Reading Created the DeSantis Fake Clip, Users Struggled to Tell if It Was Real
According to a report from Forbes that dissected the film and flagged it as fake, the clip amassed over 2 million views on Twitter alone in a relatively short period.
The publication went on to uncover that the video was part of a larger edited film created by the popular ‘deep fake’ YouTube Channel Bad Lip Reading, whose creator has made dozens of other videos that copy the voice of politicians to say funny things that they have never said in reality.
The same channel has created a video of Donald Trump that uses the footage of him during the interview performed by Axios and aired on HBO that alters his voice to make him say incoherent things.
Despite how funny these videos may be, they bring up a hot topic that is being considered quite dangerous by lawmakers, defense experts, and security agencies as these so-called ‘deep fakes’ are becoming the perfect tool to spread misinformation and fake news on social media and the internet.
The latest video involving DeSantis and the fact that few people were able to tell if it was fake reinforces the validity of these concerns as similar clips can be used for other purposes rather than just making fun of a public figure.
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) is adding fuel to the fire as several platforms including MidJourney, which lets users create high-definition images out of simple text prompts, have been used multiple times already to create several viral pictures including one of Pope Francis wearing high-fashion pieces of clothing and another of Donald Trump resisting arrest.
A ‘Deep Fake’ Called Ukrainian Troops to Surrender
The easiness with which these images and videos can be created and the extensive research that needs to go into debunking them is what is scaring governments and business leaders as bad actors could rapidly create fake news to discredit a company, taint the name of a brand, spread lies about a politician or celebrity, and even cause some geopolitical conflict if they manage to convince the public that something is going on within their government or against their country.
Last year, a fake video of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spread like wildfire on social media and YouTube after hackers managed to post it on the official website of a Urakining news site. In the video, the leader of the nation declared his intention to surrender against the Russian military forces that were, and still are, actively invading the country.
The video prompted soldiers and civilian combatants to lay down their weapons and hand over the country to the enemy. Zelenskyy rapidly addressed the situation by sending a message through the country’s official Telegram channel where he discredited the footage.
Last week, a group of Democrats in Congress called the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to tackle the issue of deep fakes and crack down on the use of AI to create fake videos in the run-up to the 2024 Presidential election.
“Quickly evolving AI technology makes it increasingly difficult for voters to accurately identify fraudulent video and audio material, which is increasingly troubling in the context of campaign advertisements”, almost 50 lawmakers from various states commented in a letter signed and sent to the FEC.
“As Members of Congress concerned about the ability of generative AI to significantly disrupt the integrity of our elections, we respectfully request that the FEC reconsider its decision and seek comment on whether the Commission should initiate a full rulemaking on a proposal in the Petition for Rulemaking from Public Citizen”, the document adds.