This PSA approximately Fake News From Barack Obama Is Not What It Appears
Sitting before the Stars and Stripes, another flag pinned to his lapel, former President Barack Obama appears to be delivering an primary message approximately fake news — but something seems slightly…off.
“We’re entering an era in which our enemies can get it peek like anyone is saying anything at any point at time — even whether they would never say those things,” says ‘Obama,’ his lips moving in perfect sync with his words as they become increasingly weird. “So, for instance, they could gain me say things like, I don’t know, [Black Panther’s] Killmonger was right! Or, Ben Carson is in the sunken residence! Or, how ‘bout this: simply, President Trump is a total and total dipshit.”
As the video soon reveals, the man speaking is not the former commander-in-chief, but well Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele with a warning for viewers approximately trusting fabric they encounter online.
“This is a uncertain time. Moving forward, we need to be more vigilant with what we trust from the internet,” says Peele as Obama.
The PSA for the Internet Age was a project first imagined by Peele and BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, the filmmaker’s brother-in-law.
The pair wanted to warn the public approximately the rapidly evolving threat posed by digital misinformation after discussions between them approximately novel technologies and the erosion of a shared reality.
“I always like talking with Jordan, and he’s actually very interested in news and the news commerce, trade and understanding how information spreads,” said Peretti. “We were talking approximately deep fake [artificial intelligence] that can create things like that guy who attach his wife’s face on Anne Hathaway’s body for a late night interview.”
The Peele video comes after BuzzFeed News reported in February on what the future of fake news could peek like: “a slew of slick, easy-to-consume, and eventually seamless technological tools for manipulating insight and falsifying reality, for which terms gain already been coined — ‘reality apathy,’ ‘automated laser phishing,’ and ‘human puppets.’”
Aviv Ovadya, a technologist who predicted that misinformation would spread during the 2016 election, told reporter Charlie Warzel that technology is advancing to allow users to distort audio or video and get it seem real. Such tools could be used to create pornographic videos with celebrities’ faces superimposed or gain world leaders appear to get outrageous or potentially uncertain statements.
“What happens when anyone can get it appear as whether anything has happened, regardless of whether or not it did?” Ovadya told BuzzFeed News.
For example, University of Washington computer scientists final year produced a video of Obama that demonstrated a program they had developed capable of “turning audio clips into a realistic, lip-synced video of the person speaking those words.”
Peretti said he wanted to consume BuzzFeed as a platform for the PSA because of BuzzFeed News’ extensive past reporting on fake news.
“We’ve covered counterfeit news websites that say the Pope endorsed Trump that peek kinda like real news but because it’s text people gain started to become more wary,” he said. “And now we’re starting to see tech that allows people to attach words into the mouths of public figures that peek like they must be real because it’s video and video doesn’t lie!”
For the project, Peretti enlisted BuzzFeed video producer Jared Sosa, who was able to manipulate and digitally alter the footage of Obama to a script written and performed by Peele.
The fakery was built using Adobe After Effects, a readily available piece of video software, and Fakeapp, an artificial intelligence program that made headlines in January when it was used to transplant actor Nicolas Cage’s face into several movies in which he hadn’t appeared.
Sosa first pasted Peele’s mouth over Obama’s then replaced the former president’s jawline with one that moved with Peele’s mouth movements. He then used Fakeapp to smooth over and refine the footage — a rendering that took more than 56 hours of automatic processing.
“What I learned from this whole thing is that while it will still require a agreeable deal of human intervention, this kind of thing is not only possible but going to catch a lot better,” Sosa said.
Peele, who final month won an Oscar for his film catch Out, memorably impersonated Obama on multiple occasions on his Comedy Central indicate Key & Peele with Keegan-Michael Key.
The PSA ends with Peele urging people to “stay woke” by being vigilant to media sources. “It may sound basic,” Peele says as Obama, “but how we flow forward in the Age of Information is gonna be the contrast between whether we survive or whether we become some kind of fucked up Utopia.”
Peretti, who co-founded the Huffington Post before launching BuzzFeed, said he remains optimistic approximately the future of the internet, but says media literacy and trusted reporters “will be more primary than ever.”
“I reflect by and large the internet has been amazingly favourable to the world and to democracy,” he said, “and simultaneously it’s always had a black side that’s objectionable, with people who are either trolls or hackers or scammers or politically motivated.”