A constituency is warning of the state of American democracy using a technology that is often feared for its own potential to undermine democracy.
A new campaign by charities and the Mischief agency shows deepfakes of authoritarian leaders Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un making threatening statements about the dangers of voter suppression and rigged elections. The ads will air on the three major cable news networks in the Washington DC area after the first presidential debate tonight.
The campaign also hired celebrities like Katy Perry, Orlando Bloom, Jennifer Lawrence, Ed Helms, Alyssa Milano, and Kathy Griffin to get the message across on social media.
The group claims the campaign marks the first time deepfakes have been used in political advertising for a major US television network. While deepfakes are often debated for their more nefarious potential use in news material production or extortion crimes, more recently brands have also turned to technology as a makeshift production method amid quarantine lockdowns.
In that case, Greg Hahn, Mischief’s co-founder and chief creative officer, said the technology was used to get attention in a media environment saturated with political news.
“There is so much noise in this political environment that people can get overwhelmed and feel like everything is out of their hands. There is nothing you can do. Apathy is actually the intent of the noise. It was really important to break through all of that in a way that provoked, ”Hahn said in a statement. “This is no time for safe, passive ideas. We are pleased that RepresentUs turned to Mischief for this important project. We are allergic to safe and passive. “
Any fake strongman’s message focuses on threats to fair and open elections such as walking in electoral districts, closing polling stations and spreading misinformation.
“America, you accuse me of interfering with your democracy, but I don’t have to,” says the deeply falsified Putin. “You’re doing it to yourself.”
Joshua Graham Lynn, co-founder and president of RepresentUs, said the authoritarian leaders were chosen to make clear where a relapse of democracy could lead.
“America has been manipulated, votes suppressed and voters purged for decades. Money has taken over our political system. In 2020 everything will come home to sleep, “Lynn said in a statement. “By introducing two leaders who have a vested interest in the collapse of our democratic system, we are asking the American people how fragile our democracy really is. We hope it inspires Americans to come together to fight for this one issue that unites us all. “