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Deepfake videos hawk unproven diabetes cures

Deepfake videos hawk unproven diabetes cures - Featured image

Author(s): Rob Lever / AFP USA

Social media users are sharing videos that appear to show news anchors from CNN and Fox News promoting new or simple treatments for diabetes. But the clips were manipulated using artificial intelligence, and the news networks say they did not broadcast such packages.

“An American doctor said he would pay a million dollars to anyone who would not cure diabetes with his new drug,” CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer appears to say in a November 6, 2023 Facebook reel. The video then cuts to a purported endorsement from Mehmet Oz, a physician and former TV host who ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2022.

Another November 1 video shows Fox News’s Laura Ingraham making a similar claim, saying a new medicine “invented in America” will treat diabetic foot disease.

“In the first 72 hours sugar stabilizes … in one course of treatment the body will become completely healthy,” the host appears to say.

Other posts, some with thousands of interactions, include similar clips of Fox News’s Martha MacCallum and Jesse Watters, Sara Sidner of CNN. Some include links to an apparent Fox News article about diabetes, while others share unrelated health blogs.

Screenshot of a Facebook reel taken November 7, 2023
Screenshot of a Facebook reel taken November 7, 2023

Diabetes, which can be managed with diet, exercise and some approved medications, is a frequent topic of misinformation. AFP has previously fact-checked numerous claims of unapproved supplements, and US health officials warn there is little evidence supporting alternative treatments, some of which may be dangerous.

The clips of US journalists promoting such cures are manipulated, according to the news channels and digital forensics experts.

“These are all deepfakes, and pretty low-quality ones at that,” said Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley.

“With the rapid improvement in voice cloning and lip-sync deepfakes, I have seen a rise in these types of videos where a person’s voice is cloned from as little as two minutes of their voice, and then any of video of them is modified so that the mouth is consistent with the new audio.”

Siwei Lyu, director of the Media Forensic Lab at the University at Buffalo, agreed that the videos were manipulated with artificial intelligence.

“The audios are created with AI-models — they could not pass our AI-generated audio detection algorithm, and they lack the common paralinguistic features such as breathing and proper pauses,” Lyu said in a November 7 email.

“The video and audio do not synchronize well. The video frames demonstrate artifacts around the lip area, suggesting that they may be made with AI-based lip-synching tools such as HeyGan or wav2lip. This is also confirmed with our deep fake video detection method.”

A CNN spokesperson confirmed in a November 7 email that the videos of Blitzer and Sidner “are fabricated and not something Wolf or Sara said or reported.”

Similarly, a spokesperson for Fox said the videos of Ingraham, MacCallum and Watters “did not air on Fox News Channel.”

Using reverse image and keyword searches, AFP found the clips were manipulated from genuine segments that aired on CNN and Fox. None were about diabetes:

  • Ingraham said September 19, 2023 on Fox: “Liberals don’t care about crime, unless it’s committed by people they don’t like or people they disagree with.”
  • Sidner’s clip comes from a September 18 interview with a former Virginia prosecutor.
  • Also on September 18, McCallum discussed the probe into Hunter Biden.
  • Blitzer’s clip comes from a September 18 report on an election fraud trial in the state of Georgia.
  • Watters on September 26 discussed illegal immigration.

AFP has previously debunked manipulated media involving journalists here and here, and fake celebrity product endorsements here and here.

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Originally published here.
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