Three highly convincing deepfake videos of Tom Cruise have gone viral recently and amassed millions of views on TikTok.
The smooth, flawless details in the videos uploaded under the handle @deeptomcruise may make one believe that the man—playing golf, performing magic tricks and blabbering about former Soviet Union Leader Mikhail Gorbachev—is indeed the Mission Impossible star.
But it was actually a Tom Cruise impersonator, whose body and voice were used to portray the celebrity. According to Forbes, the deepfake portions of the videos were creations of Belgian video visual effects specialist Chris Ume, who is also responsible for another deepfake video of Tom Cruise that was released in January.
I love magic!♬ original sound - Tom
Deepfake is a type of artificial intelligence used to create convincing images, audio and video, where an existing image of a person is replaced with someone else’s likeness.
Experts, non-experts and the curious say that the TikTok videos, currently with over 10 million views and counting, are some of the most convincing deepfake videos that have been produced.
Researchers have said that there is no single telltale sign of how to spot deepfakes but what gives it away are the face (too smooth or too wrinkly), eyes and eyebrows (most of the time looks “dead” and does not move) and blinking (not enough or too much).
In the Tom Cruise TikTok videos, everything is immaculate, except for some minute hiccups that the untrained eye may miss like when a part of this sunglasses disappears for a couple of frames as he was about to wear it.
Though the @deeptomcruise videos may not pose harm, The Verge pointed out TikTok’s terms of service that says one may not “impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent you or your affiliation with any person or entity, including giving impression that any content you upload, post, transmit, distribute or otherwise make available emanates from the services.”
According to a CNN Business report, Tiktok is not taking action against the said TikTok account because it “does not violate policies against harmful deepfake or impersonation.”
Deepfake iterations have been used in Hollywood films, art and used to generate fun memes meant to entertain. However, the past few years saw the rise of the more sinister side of this technology—lying within the dark bowels of the internet—which may potentially be used to deploy online disinformation and launch an attack on someone’s reputation.
Banner and thumbnail screenshot from @deeptomcruise on TIkTok