Lerato Maimela
Digital Journalist
2 minute read
8 Mar 2021
2:28 pm

Tom Cruise or not? Deepfake videos leave millions confused

Lerato Maimela

Fake videos of Tom Cruise on TikTok show how the technology has come of age.

The real Tom Cruise accepts an award.

A series of deepfake videos gone viral on TikTok of American actor and producer Tom Cruise has left millions of fans wondering if it really is him or not.

A deepfake uses synthetic media in which people in existing images or videos are replaced with someone else’s likeness or face.

Belgian visual effects artist Chris Ume has been creating videos edited using an algorithm to replace himself in the original videos with Tom Cruise in a way that makes them look authentic.

@deeptomcruiseAnd bubblegum?!♬ original sound – Tom

Ume said his intention was not to fool anybody, but to create awareness and bring attention to the continued evolution of the technology that allows people to create realistic fake videos of other people.

In the four videos that Ume created and shared on TikTok, Tom Cruise is doing a magic coin trick in the one, playing golf in the other and falls over in the third one while telling a story about Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet Union leader.

@deeptomcruiseI love magic!♬ original sound – Tom

@deeptomcruiseSports!♬ original sound – Tom

“The important thing is we did not want to fool people at any moment” Ume said in an interview.

“If I can help in creating awareness, or even work on detection in the future, I would love to.”

Digital image forensics expert and professor at the University of California Hany Farid said “my first thought was they are incredibly well done. They are funny, they are clever.

“In the early days, you could see the potential, but it was not even close to being there, but this felt to me like it was a real step, like we just took a big step forward in the development of this technology”.

In April 2018, a video produced by Buzzfeed went viral, warning the public about deepfake technology. The video featured American actor and producer Jordan Peele realistically impersonating former President Barack Obama. The video gained more than 8 million view on YouTube.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.