President Ali Bongo recovery video accused of being a deepfake

Occurred: March 2019

A TV broadcast appearance of Gabon's President Ali Bongo claiming he had recovered from ill-health prompted accusations that the clip was a deepfake concocted by his government. 

Commentators and political adversaries noted that Bongo's appearance was marked his 'immobile' face, that his eyes were out of sync with his jaw, how little he blinked, and that his speech patterns appeared different.

The clip appeared at a time when the President was out of the country receiving medical treatment, fueling rumours that he was seriously unwell.

A week after the video’s release, Gabon’s military attempted a coup d'etat, citing the video as an indicator there was something wrong with the president. The coup attempt failed. However, the video was seen to have led to increased political and societal instability.

Some experts have since concluded the video may not have been a deepfake, though opinion remains divided.


Country: Gabon

Sector: Politics

Purpose: Defend reputation

Technology: Deepfake - video; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Mis/disinformation

Transparency: Governance; Marketing

System 🤖