Commentary

Putin Video Released Day of Debate Was Actually Deepfake Video from Anti-Trump Group

An anti-Trump group is under attack after releasing a so-called “deepfake” video featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un telling viewers to “save the election.”

The video, which was supposed to air in the nation’s capital, shows the two leaders discussing how important voting and democracy are — ironic, given neither of the two presides over a democracy.

“America, you blame me for interfering with your democracy, but I don’t have to,” the deepfake Putin is shown saying.

“You’re doing it to yourselves. Polling stations are closing. You don’t know who to trust. You are divided.”

“Deepfakes” are computer-created videos that are meant to mimic actual clips.

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While the video was supposed to air in the Washington area, networks decided against airing the ad, created by “nonpartisan” (ho ho) group RepresentUs at the last minute.

“We are a fiercely non-partisan movement with one mission: Protect democracy. President Trump’s public statements have made it clear he’s laying the groundwork for an electoral coup. This is beyond partisanship,” RepresentUs’ website states.

That’s not “non-partisan.” That’s rabidly anti-Trump.

“Misinformation about vote by mail is eroding trust in our democracy. It’s up to us to make sure our friends and family know the facts about voting absentee by mail. Download our Social Media Toolkit to fight misinformation to get started.”

Are deepfakes problematic for democracy?

According to FastCompany, “[s]everal TV networks apparently decided that even labeled deepfakes weren’t a good idea. RepresentUs says the videos were set to run as ads on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC (in Washington, D.C.) just after the presidential debate Tuesday night, but that those networks refused to run the ads without giving a reason.”

“Deepfakes are created with AI technology that uses various images of a subject to renders videos that appear as if someone is doing or saying something they never did,” Insider reported.

“As MIT Technology Review’s Karen Hao notes, the awareness campaign is a stark departure from the way deepfakes are typically framed in the political space as having the potential to ‘confuse voters and disrupt elections.'”

Here’s the Kim Jong Un version.

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It’s not perfect, but a casual observer could easily be fooled.

And here’s the Putin video, posted to YouTube on the day of the debate between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

At the end of each video, RepresentUs states, “This footage is not real, but the threat is.”

Really, now?

According to The Hill, RepresentUs co-founder and president said that Joshua Graham Lynn “by featuring two leaders who have a vested interest in the collapse of our democratic system, we are putting the American people face-to-face with just how fragile our democracy really is. We hope it inspires Americans to come together to fight for this one issue that unites us all.”

No, it doesn’t. What it does is demonstrate the issues with our electoral process in a profoundly disgusting way. Good work, I suppose.

Deepfakes are going to become an increasing part of our electoral process. That’s a given.

The problem is when they’re deployed in such a disgusting way, like the technology was here.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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