Deepfakes Are Being Used to Puncture Politicians’ Bluster
A YouTuber with an unhealthy obsession with 1990s female songstresses is slowly eroding the credibility of Brazil’s government
In May, a video showing Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro dressed up as Chapulin Colorado — a famous character from a 1970’s Mexican TV show — went viral, reaching over 100,000 views on YouTube (and over 900,000 on Twitter), with a fake-Bolsonaro misquoting his own campaign slogan: “Brazil above everything, God above everyone”.
Bolsonaro — the country’s most powerful man — is dressed in a bright red lycra bodysuit with two tiny antenna swinging about above his head. He looks ridiculous as he tries to repeat his campaign slogan while, like a standard TV sitcom, you can hear laughter from a non-existent audience with jazzy music playing in the background to set the jovial mood.
“Thank you very much, above all the New Yorkers,” he stumbles to laughter, misspeaking once. He tries again: “Brazil above” — he stumbles again — “the center” — yet another stumble — before finally managing to say “[above] everything”.
Of course, it’s not Bolsonaro — a strongman who has been likened to a dictator would never agree to be put in such a scene — but instead a deepfake of him, using artificial intelligence technology and machine learning to map images of a face onto pre-existing ones, then model how they would react when people move, creating an almost-perfect video of pretty much anyone. The deepfake was produced by 30-year-old Brazilian journalist Bruno Sartori.
Sartori is from the small city of Unaí, in the state of Minas Gerais, and decided to use deepfakes as a way to mock politicians on his YouTube channel, in particular far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro.
The creator says Bolsonaro has policies contrary to his ideas and uses his deepfakes to criticize the leader. “Making [deepfakes of] politicians is easier because of the…