Venezuela’s government is using faked artificial intelligence-generated television presenters to spread disinformation.
Editor’s note: Before publication, the YouTube channel that was hosting the example videos was “terminated.”
El Pais reports that Venezuelan state-owned television station VTV has been using deepfake English-speaking hosts from a fictitious American news agency to share falsely positive news coverage about the country.
The videos of Venezuela’s artificial intelligence-generated (AI) anchors, who are called Noah and Daren, first surfaced on a YouTube channel called the House of News Español.
In the videos that were aired on VTV, Noah and Daren are depicted as the real hosts of a supposedly American news broadcast.
The two anchors present false news stories about Venezuela and attempt to show that the country’s economy is not “really destroyed” as many other media outlets may suggest.
In reality, however, Venezuela has long experienced chronic hyperinflation and food shortages. Meanwhile, Noah and Daren are two avatars created with AI by a company called Synthesia.
Synthesia’s catalog offers more than a hundred multiracial faces that will say whatever the buyer wants for less than $30 per month. The company’s AI avatars can be dressed as anything from television hosts, to a doctor, to Santa Claus.
As well as this situation in Venezuela, Synthesia’s AI software has been used to promote pro-government propaganda and narratives in other countries around the world.
According to a report by The New York Times last month, Synthesia’s technology was used to create fake American news presenters in a pro-China disinformation campaign.
@viceworldnews Who made these AI-generated videos in support of Burkina Faso’s military rulers? The platform they were made on, Synthesia, said it had banned the user for breaching its terms of service, but wouldn't reveal their identity. @Sophia Smith Galer #burkinafaso #ai #aigenerated #misinformation #avatar #deepfake ♬ original sound – VICE World News
Vice reports that the company’s software was also recently used to promote President Ibrahim Traore’s interim military regime in Burkina Faso after he seized power during a coup last year.
The videos reveal the dark side of AI and how easily deepfake technology can be exploited.
In a statement to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for Synthesia says: “It pains us to see people misuse the product we built to help benefit society — this was never our intention. However, we won’t let the minority ruin the good AI has to offer.”
The company says that most clients use its technology to create corporate training videos and real estate tours.
According to a spokesperson for Synthesia, the user behind the House of News Español has been banned for violating the terms of service. The company also says these situations “highlight how difficult moderation is” in the world of AI.
“We founded the company in 2017 on strong ethical principles and have taken a much stricter stance than most,” the spokesperson says.