Deepfake Videos Spreading Misinformation on Zelenskyy, Putin

( Both pro-Russian and pro-Ukraine forces are making the most of social media to launch disinformation operations on the war in Ukraine. And while social media has tried to remove much of the disinformation disseminated in this information warfare, some online security experts fear social media will not be able to keep up with it in time to avoid any possible damage.

According to the BBC, a deep-fake video purportedly showing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky telling the people to lay down their weapons was spotted by many Ukrainians and prompted Zelensky to post a response to his Instagram account calling the video “childish provocation.”

YouTube and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, have removed the offending video from their platforms.

Nathanial Gleicher, Meta’s security-policy head explained in a Twitter thread that the company “quickly reviewed and removed” the Zelensky video for violating its policy prohibiting manipulated or misleading media. According to Gleicher, the video initially appeared on a “reportedly compromised website” before it went viral.

Another fake video featuring Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on Twitter showing Putin declaring peace.

The Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications warned that the Kremlin may try to use such videos to convince the Ukrainian people to surrender.

According to Nina Schick, the author of the book “Deepfakes,” while the current fake videos are crudely made and easy to spot, that may not be the case “in the near future.” Schick told the BBC that these videos may “erode trust in authentic media” by leading people to doubt everything they see.

The BBC’s Shayan Sardarizadeh, who analyzed the fake Zelensky video, described it as one of “the worst I’ve ever seen.” Like Schick, he warned that there will be others that make their way on social media that may not be as easy to spot as fakes.

Information warfare has always existed in war. In many ways, dropping fake videos on the social media masses is no different from dropping leaflets on civilians or soldiers during World War Two.

The social media age has simply given way to more technologically savvy versions of the same kind of information warfare. Now disinformation drops can reach millions upon millions of people without expending an ounce of fuel or a single scrap of paper.