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 initially been published on a Ukrainian news website for TV24 following an alleged hack, as Sky News reported on Wednesday. The video depicts an edited Zelenskyy speaking from behind a podium, stating that Ukraine has « chosen to return Donbas » to Russia and that his country’s military efforts have failed.
Zelenskyy’s head is absurdly larger on the video than it is in real life, and it is more pixelated than the rest of his body. His faux voice is also much deeper than his true voice.
As a matter of principle, I never post or link to fake or false content. But @MikaelThalen has helpfully whacked a label on this Zelensky one, so here goes.
I’ve seen some well-made deepfakes. This, however, has to rank among the worst of all time.pic.twitter.com/6OTjGxT28a
— Shayan Sardarizadeh (@Shayan86) March 16, 2022
On Wednesday, Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s head of security policy, issued a twitter thread saying that the video had been withdrawn from the company’s platforms. « Earlier today, our experts discovered and erased a deepfake video purporting to show President Zelensky giving a statement that he never issued. » « It first emerged on a purportedly hijacked website and then spread over the internet, » Gleicher explained.
Earlier this month, the Ukrainian government released a statement urging soldiers and citizens to be cautious if they come across footage of Zelenskyy on the internet, particularly if he declares a surrender to the Russian assault. According to the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications, the Russian government will most likely utilize deepfakes to persuade Ukrainians to submit.
« Videos created using such technologies are nearly impossible to discern from actual ones. » Be cautious – this is a forgery! « His purpose is to confuse, cause panic, mislead residents, and incite our troops to retreat, » according to the statement. « Don’t worry, Ukraine will not submit! »
After the deepfake began to circulate on the internet, Zelenskyy debunked it in a video posted to his official Instagram account. « As for the latest infantile provocation with recommendations to lay down guns, I merely advise Russian Federation forces to lay down their arms and return home, » he stated. « We are defending Ukraine at home. »
In the run-up to the 2020 US presidential election, Facebook banned deepfakes and other modified content from its platforms. The policy encompasses content generated by artificial intelligence or machine learning algorithms that has the potential to « mislead » users.