Jordan Peele wants us all to have a lot more incredulity about what we see on the Internet. To drive this point home, he’s made quite the “fake news” video.
Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions paired up with BuzzFeed to create this piece, which is cheekily titled “You Won’t Believe What Obama Says in This Video.” That’s because, while President Obama appears to be saying every word herein, the voice behind him is actually Peele’s, doing his renowned Obama impression.
“We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time,” says Peele’s Obama. “Even if they would never say those things. So, for instance, they could have me say things like ‘Killmonger was right’ or ‘Ben Carson is in the sunken place’ or, how about this, simply, ‘President Trump is a total and complete dipshit.'”
You, a savvy and skeptical consumer of media, might say that you knew at once that the voice was not truly Obama’s. But the point at hand here is that a great majority of people would not—and much worse, they would not even think to question it. Think about how many voters had their opinions shaped by “news” sources that we now know to be disingenuous if not outright propaganda.
Now imagine that we’re moving swiftly towards a future where not only news stories can be twisted, but audio and video as well. The technology that Peele and BuzzFeed are using here already exists and is in use. “Deepfake” tech like this will be readily available to pretty much anyone who wants to use it by the next Presidential elections. Going forward, deepfaked video will likely become a standard tool of mass manipulation.
This is particularly frightening because while you might be able to persuade people to question the veracity of a faked news story, it’s extremely difficult to convince someone that something they saw is not real. I’d encourage you to share this video with friends and family as an example of what’s possible and where we’re heading. BuzzFeed also has a follow-up article on how the video was made and how to spot deepfakes.
And don’t forget, kids: never believe what you see on the Internet without a good deal of investigation first. We have a tendency to blindly click “share” and help spread misinformation, and those days should be over.
(Ben Carson is in the sunken place, however.)
(via BuzzFeed, image: screengrab)
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