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Deepfake Diaries: The One Show and Rip Off Britain

Consumer Champion, Television,

Seeing is no longer believing, and deepfakes aren’t far from the news at the moment. I have been working on some broadcast projects recently to demonstrate how powerful deepfakes can be - and how easy they are to create.

For the BBC's Be Scam Safe Week, I surprised Will Mellor on The One Show by showing how convincing deepfakes can be; for BBC Rip Off Britain, I was tasked with creating a deepfake of Gloria Hunniford saying something she wouldn’t dream of uttering...

Creating these digital likenesses was as enlightening as it was frightening. Challenging accents? No problem: feed the right model no more than a couple of minutes of the subject’s voice and the output can be very good. Lip-sync? Again, gen-AI tools can automate much of the process. Add a bit of Photoshop/Premiere Pro and, an hour or so later, I’d made something compelling.

The deepfakes I created weren’t perfect, far from it - but in a way, that’s the point. Were they still good enough to shock their ‘victim’ and perhaps fool an unsuspecting viewer scrolling through social media? Yes. Bad actors’ deepfakes using the same techniques I employed have already been good enough to do real harm. And the tools are getting better day by day.

One final thought: 2024 is huge year for democratic elections around the world; by some estimates, half of the planet’s population is set to go to the polls. We have already seen hints of the power deepfakes have to influence people’s actions and thoughts: I foresee many more deepfake stories with profound outcomes before the year is out.

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