Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The government of Venezuela uses AI to create videos with ‘fake news’

The government of Venezuela would be doing using AI to drive disinformation campaigns on social networks and official media. A YouTube channel known as House of News Spanish uses deepfakes to spread false news about the economy and other issues of the South American country. These videos are promoted through paid campaigns and even in official television news as if it were a reliable source.

A detailed report of Fake News Hunters (via Washington Post) exposes how Venezuela is taking advantage of advances in artificial intelligence. The propagandists have resorted to deepfakes through a company called Synthesia, which offers video creation with avatars. Through a monthly fee it is possible to generate videos of synthetic actors reading a script in the chosen language.

In the case of Venezuela, those responsible for House of News They created a YouTube channel and a Facebook page where they share videos through paid campaigns. All content uses AI avatars available in the Synthesia catalog, who talk about how the Caribbean Series generated millions of dollars in revenue, or how Juan Guaidó spent $150 million.

House of News, the YouTube channel that spreads fake news about Venezuela using AI
House of News YouTube Channel

The fake news They circulate on social networks and in media such as VTV, where a presenter takes a video as a reliable source. «Venezolana de Televisión does not say so. This server does not say so […] These are numbers that this means of communication makes known in the United States and a good part of Latin America. The strategy is to make people believe that a “gringo” news channel shares how well the country is doing.

Maduro supporters viralize the fake news created with AI

youtube videoyoutube video

The investigation details that the video Venezuela and its economy: myth or reality, with 271 thousand views on YouTube, went viral on TikTok. Personalities close to the government of President Nicolás Maduro promoted it on social networks. Subsequently, some sympathizers of the regime shared the information without verifying the origin.

The titles of the videos published in “House of News Español” serve as a perfect example of how false sources and accounts are used to generate “seed” disinformation that is later repeated by influencers and media close to the Maduro government, using quotes from third parties that, in this case, do not exist.

Fake News Hunters

According to Synthesia, all content goes through an internal selection process before being delivered to the customer. Although there is no policy that prevents the creation of fake news with AI, the Terms of use They establish that the videos cannot be broadcast on television networks or in advertising campaigns on social networks. Ironically, the company belongs to the Content Authenticity Initiative, a group tasked with combating misinformation in digital content.

AI-powered avatars add to the catalog of tools used by governments and other political actors to drive their narratives. While the videos are riddled with errors and the readings look artificial to the naked eye, a user without knowledge about deepfakes I could conclude that they are real. Few will question the origin or go the extra step to discover that the page of House of News Spanish is managed from Venezuela.

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