Generative A.I. and deepfake software has steadily advanced over the years and can now deliver realistic results, providing a tool that blurs the line between fact and fiction. Deepfake technology has been around for years and has been used to create music videos, nonconsensual pornography, and even political deception. The New York Times recently reported on synthetic media being weaponized in disinformation campaigns. According to a Graphika report, Pro-Chinese disinformation actors used commercially available deepfake technology to generate videos of two fictitious characters. The AI-generated avatars were positioned as news anchors for a fabricated media outlet called “Wolf News.” The deepfake videos circulated on Facebook and Twitter before being removed. This marks one of the most high-profile manifestations of the weaponization of deepfakes for disinformation. Ease of use and access has made dissemination scalable.
The before mentioned videos were part of a pro-China misinformation campaign dubbed “spamouflage.” In these campaigns, political spam accounts plant content online and use other accounts to amplify it across various social media platforms. In this particular instance, one of the fictitious avatars, Anna, made a passionate speech in a robotic monotone voice supporting Burkina Faso’s new government. Facebook disabled an account connected to the pro-China deepfake videos after being contacted by The New York Times. Researchers noted the use of deepfake technology more than the actual impact of the videos, which were not seen by a large audience. As deepfake technology advances, it is believed that next-level deepfakes will be increasingly hard to detect, making them difficult to verify as real or fake.