Celebrity Deepfakes Scams On The Rise

Celebrity Deepfakes Scams On The Rise
Screenshot: tomhanks/Instagram, gayleking/Instagram, MrBeast/X

Deepfakes Reach New Levels of Deception as Celebrities Are Targeted

In an age where the internet already teems with misinformation, a newer and potentially more sinister challenge has emerged: deepfakes. This advancement in generative AI technology can produce lifelike but wholly fabricated videos of individuals, even celebrities. As a result, it's becoming increasingly difficult for the average user to discern real from fake.

Over the past week alone, three high-profile cases have highlighted the severity of the issue.

The first involves Hollywood stalwart, Tom Hanks, who took to his Instagram to share a screenshot of a video advertisement promoting a dental plan. Disturbingly, the spokesperson bears an uncanny resemblance to the actor. Although Mr. Hanks refrained from sharing the full video, the visible imperfections in the screenshot suggest that it's a deepfake. Observers speculate that some entity may have used the actor's likeness without permission to hawk their dental products.

Gayle King, a prominent anchor on CBS Mornings, faced a similar issue. She shared a deepfake video on her Instagram, one that she says she had no part in creating. The video was made using a clip of her discussing a potential appearance by Bruce Springsteen on her show. While those familiar with deepfakes could easily spot the discrepancies in lip syncing and the rigid audio quality, many users may not have been as discerning.

Lastly, internet superstar Mr. Beast found himself in the midst of a deepfake controversy. A fabricated advertisement circulating on TikTok features "Mr. Beast" offering an iPhone 15 Pro for a mere two dollars to a select group of viewers. Despite being one of the more polished deepfakes recently seen, knowing what to look for quickly reveals the illusion.

These incidents underscore the potential threats posed by deepfakes. As this technology becomes more sophisticated and accessible, the line between fact and fiction may blur even further, endangering trust and truth in the digital age.

It's a chilling reminder of the old internet adage: "Don't believe everything you see online." Now, more than ever, we must approach digital content with a discerning eye and support efforts to develop tools and regulations to combat these digital deceits.