Don’t fall for celebrity deepfakes like these

Deepfake videos of celebrities reacting to the Oscars controversy were shared online ahead of April Fools’ Day. Here are some tips on how to spot a deepfake.
Credit: Screenshot/@themanofmanyvoices

During the March 27 Academy Awards, Will Smith marched on stage and hit presenter Chris Rock. The altercation came after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith. 

Since then, some celebrities have weighed in on the encounter. Actor Mia Farrow tweeted about it, as did actor Sophia Bush. Filmmaker Rob Reiner also tweeted, and Wanda Sykes went on “The Ellen [DeGeneres] Show” to give her account of the Oscars.

Even though there are several celebrities offering their real opinion of the so-called “slap heard around the world,” there are some videos of celebrity reactions on social media that many are claiming are fake, like this one of Clint Eastwood or this one of Morgan Freeman. 

THE QUESTION

Are the videos showing actors Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman reacting to the Oscars controversy real?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the videos aren’t real. They are deepfake videos created by a celebrity impressionist who originally posted the videos on TikTok.

WHAT WE FOUND

The videos shared to Twitter claiming to show actors Clint Eastwood and Morgan Freeman reacting to the Oscars controversy are deepfakes. A deepfake is made using artificial intelligence technologies, like programs that can be used to replace or synthesize faces, speech or expressions of emotions.

These videos were posted to Twitter, but originally came from the TikTok account of @themanofmanyvoices who, according to their account, is a celebrity impressionist. The account regularly posts deepfake videos of different celebrities, many of them with the same background – a bookshelf loaded with CDs. 

Credit: Screenshot/@themanofmanyvoices

In addition to Eastwood and Freeman, the account also posted videos claiming to show reactions to the Oscars controversy from Sylvester Stallone, Muhammad Ali and the Cowardly Lion from “The Wizard of Oz.”

If you watch these videos you might think they look like deepfakes, but here are tips for how you can prove they are not real. 

  1. Check the source. The TiKTok user handle can be seen in the videos. By researching the original source of the footage, VERIFY was able to confirm they are from a celebrity impressionist that posts manipulated content like this regularly. 
  2. Look at the surroundings. The background is the same in the Stallone, Freeman and Ali videos – a picture featuring a logo for “The Sopranos” can be seen in each. While these celebrities could run in the same circles, it’s unlikely they were in the same room recording themselves condemning Smith’s actions. 
  3. Ask yourself - who is in the video? Ali died in 2016, so we know he couldn’t have had an opinion about the 2022 Oscars.
  4. Noting facial features or oddities is also helpful. In both the Eastwood and Freeman videos, there was slight discoloration across the jawbone. 
  5. Check for image enhancements. The characters in these videos do appear digitally altered, making them both appear younger. This is what Eastwood looked like on Feb. 6.

The MIT Media Lab, a research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offers these additional tips to help detect deepfakes:

  1. Pay attention to the eyes and eyebrows. Do shadows appear in places that you would expect?
  2. Pay attention to the glasses. Is there any glare? Is there too much glare? Does the angle of the glare change when the person moves? 
  3. Pay attention to the facial hair or lack thereof. Does this facial hair look real? Deepfakes might add or remove a mustache, sideburns, or beard
  4. Pay attention to blinking. Does the person blink enough or too much? 
  5. Pay attention to the size and color of the lips. Does the size and color match the rest of the person's face?

And don’t forget, if you have questions or want something confirmed, that is what the VERIFY team is here for. Send your questions to questions@verifythis.com if you want the team to fact-check any claims you see online or hear in person.

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