They’re two of the biggest names in the technology industry, and now Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have ‘starred’ in a film together – or so it seems.
A disturbingly realistic deepfake video has been created, which appears to show Bezos and Musk in Star Trek’s pilot episode, The Cage.
It was created by YouTuber TheFakening, and has been viewed over 35,000 times.
In the video description, its creator explained: “In the not too distant future Elon Musk will save us from the captivity of Jeff Bezos’ Amazon illusion.
“Elon Musk and Talosian Jeff Bezos in Star Trek’s pilot episode ‘The Cage’ deepfake.”
While the video is extremely convincing, it’s actually a deepfake – a video in which a person’s face and voice are manipulated to say anything the programmer wants.
And although this video was clearly created for laughs, other deepfakes have been misinterpreted in the past.
For example, earlier this year, a digitally altered video appeared to show Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, slurring drunkenly through a speech.
The video was widely shared on Facebook and YouTube, before being tweeted by President Donald Trump with the caption: “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE”.
The video was debunked, but not before it had been viewed millions of times. Trump has still not deleted the tweet, which has been retweeted over 30,000 times.
The current approach of social media companies is to filter out and reduce the distribution of deepfake videos, rather than outright removing them – unless they are pornographic.
This can result in victims suffering severe reputational damage, not to mention ongoing humiliation and ridicule from viewers.
“Deepfakes are one of the most alarming trends I have witnessed as a Congresswoman to date,” said US Congresswoman Yvette Clarke in a recent article for Quartz .
“If the American public can be made to believe and trust altered videos of presidential candidates, our democracy is in grave danger.
“We need to work together to stop deepfakes from becoming the defining feature of the 2020 elections.”