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Tom Cruise And TikTok: The Deal With Deepfakes

Paul Scharre views in his offices in Washington, DC a manipulated video by BuzzFeed with filmmaker Jordan Peele (R on screen) using software to change what is said by former president Barack Obama (L on screen), illustrating how deepfake technology can deceive viewers.
Paul Scharre views in his offices in Washington, DC a manipulated video by BuzzFeed with filmmaker Jordan Peele (R on screen) using software to change what is said by former president Barack Obama (L on screen), illustrating how deepfake technology can deceive viewers.

Videos of Tom Cruise doing a magic trick or swinging a golf club may have popped up on your feed recently. If you thought it was the “Mission Impossible” actor, you’re not alone. Many were confused by the recordings. But they were deepfakes.

As it turns out, the clips weren’t of Cruise. Instead, they were ultra–realistic deepfake videos. Simply put, deepfakes are synthetic media created by a visual effects artist using artificial intelligence to fool a viewer into believing something’s happening when it’s really not.

The Cruise clips were so deceptive that they fooled many on social media as well as specially-designed deepfake detection software.

The technology is quickly evolving – from a fabricated broadcast anchor to silly lip-sync apps. It doesn’t have to be used primarily for deceit.

Find our last conversation about the potential threat of deepfakes here.

What does creating a deepfake entail? And what does this mean for the future, online and off?

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