Deepfake TV anchors spin Pro-China 'spamouflage' campaign

Occurred: February 2023

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Deepfake TV anchors and thousands of fake Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Reddit accounts, groups and pages talking positively about China whilst sowing disquiet in the US, UK, Taiwan, the Australia, Japan, and other countries have been discovered and taken down

The TV anchors had purported to work for 'Wolf News' and had been created using technology created and owned by London-based AI video creation platform Synthesia. They are thought to be the first known instance of 'deepfake'-generated videos being used as part of a state-aligned influence campaign. 

The discovery had first been made (pdf) by Graphika, which had been tracking a Chinese covert influence operation named 'Spamouflage'. Synthesia later suspended the accounts of the people who had created the fake anchors on the basis that they had violated its terms of service

In September 2023, Meta said (pdf) it had removed 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 pages, 15 groups and 15 Instagram accounts identified for violating the company’s inauthentic behaviour policy. Meta said large number of accounts appeared to be running from shared locations in China, marked by bursts of activity during the morning and afternoon, with breaks for lunch and supper.

Operator: Government of China
Developer: Government of China; Synthesia

Country: Australia; Japan; Taiwan; UK; USA

Sector: Politics

Purpose: Promote Chinese interests

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

Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2023
Last updated: September 2023