Celebrity fakes take TikTok by storm

Faking it: “Tom Cruise” has been filmed talking, doing magic tricks and playing golf. © TikTok

Should we have to label deepfakes? Ultra-realistic videos of actor Tom Cruise are trending on social media. But some people might want to use the technology for harm rather than good.

What’s happening

Tom Cruise is the actor known for starring in Mission Impossible. Now, he has gone viral on TikTok.

In videos, he tells funny stories, tastes sweets and does magic tricks. In one, he even plays golf. The films have been seen by millions. But there’s one catch: they are not really him.

Find out more

In fact, the videos are deepfakes. This means they were created using artificial intelligence.

The computer learnt what Tom Cruise looked and sounded like. Then, it was able to create a video of him saying and doing things he had never done himself.

But it is not easy to make them look realistic. “You can’t do it by just pressing a button,” said the owner of the TikTok account, Chris Ume. He is a computer expert and made the videos with the help of an impersonator.

For him, making the account was just a bit of fun: “We made people smile. And that’s it, the project is done.”

But some say deepfakes are dangerous. They are so realistic, it could soon be difficult to tell if what we see online is real.

Should we have to label deepfakes?

Some say…

No. They should be banned altogether. Deepfakes are misleading and wrong. They could be very harmful. People could be made to say things they do not believe. Politicians could make fake videos of their rivals. And it could cause more cyber bullying. We should not be allowed to make deepfakes at all.

Others think…

Yes! It’s the perfect solution. Deepfakes are only dangerous if we believe them. If each one had a label explaining what it is, nobody would get confused. That way, everyone could have fun with the technology. And think how useful it could be! TV and films would be changed because actors would not have to spend so much time filming.

You Decide

  1. Have you ever been tricked by fake news you saw online?

Activities

  1. Think of a famous person to impersonate. Then, make a short film where you pretend to be them. What can you do to make yourself look more like them?

Some People Say...

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

What do you think?

Word Watch

Tom Cruise
An American actor who often does action movies. He is most famous for starring in the Mission Impossible films as Ethan Hunt.
Catch
A hidden difficulty or problem.
Artificial intelligence
A computer programme that has been designed to think. It is often known as AI.
Impersonator
Somebody who pretends to be somebody else. Miles Fisher makes his living by doing very realistic impressions of Tom Cruise. The videos were made using films of him acting.
Rivals
An opponent, someone you are trying to beat.

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