The videos look deceptively real. They show Tom Cruise playing golf, stumbling or doing a magic trick: The 58-year-old actor is not behind the clips, but a new technology called deepfake.
A fake Tom Cruise delights on Tiktok.
His clips have several million views.
Behind this is a technology called deepfake.
Tom Cruise is now on Tiktok. So far, three clips have appeared on the video platform that show him stumbling awkwardly in a clothing store, assembling his golf outfit or performing a magic trick with a coin. In all of the clips you can hear the distinctive laugh that Cruise is known for. Everything indicates that the real Tom Cruise can be seen in the videos – but that’s not true.
Because the Tiktok videos are fake. Behind the Deeptomcruise account is not the 58-year-old Hollywood actor, but an unknown impersonator.
There is some evidence that the Tom Cruise videos are fake. For example with the video on the golf course. Errors can be seen there as soon as he puts on his sunglasses. According to Theverge.com, what is known as deepfake technology is used here. Cruise’s face is projected onto the impersonator’s face using software. The impersonator has to imitate the voice and gestures of Tom Cruise, they are convincing enough for the video to appear real.
The account now has almost 400,000 followers, the three clips together several million views and over a million likes. The clips are currently causing a sensation on the Internet. Lauren White, artist and photographer, wrote on Twitter: “These deepfakes are going to be terrifyingly good. Public figures should therefore be represented on Tiktok with a verified account. “
That’s behind it
Deepfakes are not entirely new. The technology first appeared on Reddit in 2017. The name is made up of the terms “deep learning” and “fake”. Artificial intelligence and facial recognition are hidden behind the technology. If both are combined, real-looking faces can be placed on the bodies of other people.
According to EPFL, it is becoming cheaper and easier to produce such deepfakes, and the fakes are becoming more and more difficult to distinguish from real videos. Researchers at EPFL are therefore working on software to identify such fakes.
Technology – which some see as a threat to democracy – has caused quite a stir in the past. For example, in 2019 a video was manipulated by US politician Nancy Pelosi. In the clip it appeared afterwards as if the politician was drunk and confused. Numerous platforms, including Youtube and Facebook, are also working on detectors to find deepfake videos.