President Zelenskyy Deepfake Laughed Off By Experts
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An attempt at a deepfake video of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been dismissed as 'amateurish' by experts, as Russia continues to ramp up its campaign of disinformation in Ukraine.
The video in question was broadcast in an failed attempt to convince Ukrainians that Zelenskyy had ordered a surrender to Russian forces, with the clip purporting to show the president at his lecturn as he called on troops to lay down their arms.
It was immediately flagged as a fake by internet users, who pointed out the difference in skin tone between Zelenskyy's neck and face, and the odd accent in the voice attempting to mimic the president.
Ukrainian officials also moved to quickly dismiss the video, saying it was the work of 'enemy hackers' and had been shared to social media and broadcasted on Ukrainian TV channels in an effort to spread false information that President Zelenskyy had capitulated.
It doesn't take an expert to realise that the video is a deepfake, and many have expressed surprise at the poor quality of the attempt.
"The fact that it's so poorly done is a bit of a head-scratcher. You can clearly see the difference — this is not the best deepfake we've seen, not even close," said Mounir Ibrahim, whose company Truepic works to identify and debunk deepfakes.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Ibrahim said that similar 'cheap fakes' were likely to crop up, and warned that the spread of false videos could be used to eventually try and convince people that real clips of Zelenskyy were also faked.
"It's going to desensitise people and allow bad actors to allege, 'Nothing is real on the ground, you can't trust anything'," he said.
Similarly, Deepfakes author Nina Schick cautioned that while this Zelenskyy video was 'very crude', people should 'expect fakes like this to become easier to produce while appearing highly authentic'.
The Ukrainian government has repeatedly warned that Russia is attempting to spread false information claiming that Zelenskyy has either fled the country or surrendered, with the president posting regular videos from recognisable locations within the capital to reassure his citizens that he is staying in Kyiv.
Responding to the deepfake, which began circulating on Wednesday, March 16, Zelenskyy said: "If I can offer someone to lay down their arms, it's the Russian military. Go home. Because we are home. We are defending our land, our children and our families."
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