Singapore PM Lee warns of ‘very convincing’ deepfakes ‘spreading disinformation’ after fake video of him emerges

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his second-in-command Lawrence Wong have warned the public against deepfake videos depicting them that have emerged in recent days, underlining the great concern that authorities have about the harmful implications of these digitally altered videos.
Deepfakes are videos created using artificial intelligence (AI) and face swapping to depict events, statements or actions that have not happened in reality.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Lee wrote that videos of him and Wong are “very convincing but completely bogus”, and urged Singaporeans not to respond to the “scam videos” that have promised guaranteed returns on investments or giveaways.

“The use of deepfake technology to spread disinformation will continue to grow. We must remain vigilant and learn to protect ourselves and our loved ones against such scams. Thanks to alert Singaporeans who took the time to flag this to me,” Lee said.

In one altered video, Lee appears to be interviewed by a presenter from Chinese news network CGTN, where they discuss an investment proposal that promises “hands-free cryptocurrency trading with a track record of success”.

Alfred Siew, the co-founder of tech website Techgundu, said, “The fact that the prime minister himself has come out to address this says that he is extremely alarmed that people might be deceived by this.”

‘Girl math’, MH370 jokes: Singapore’s biggest social media stories of 2023

A similar video of Wong promoting investment scams was also circulating on social media just days prior, according to a report by government-funded broadsheet The Straits Times.

In the video, Wong appears to be promoting an investment product that will “allow everyone to receive guaranteed monthly dividends with minimal investment”.

Just two weeks earlier, the deputy prime minister wrote a Facebook post warning Singaporeans about deepfakes of him endorsing commercial products and reinstating a circuit breaker.

“These are all falsehoods. Let’s stay vigilant and discerning online,” Wong wrote.

Even Elon Musk, the chief executive officer of Tesla, whose tweets have been able to influence investor sentiments over cryptocurrency trading, has been the victim of convincing deepfake videos, Siew said, noting the significant impact such deceptive media can have.

Why Singapore’s new AI plan could help Asia’s cybercrime fight

In recent years, the Singapore government has launched a comprehensive whole-of-government effort against scams, with several agencies playing different roles in scam prevention. It also established the National Anti-Scam Centre to improve information sharing across the various agencies and the private sector.

Siew said that Lee and Wong had handled the situation well by using their social media platforms, which have a huge following, to address the deepfake videos.

While Singaporeans are relatively tech-savvy and aware of scams because of government-led campaigns, Siew added that it is impossible to “completely insulate” the population given the evolving sophistication of AI.

Ali Fazeli, a senior cyberthreat intelligence consultant at NexVision Lab, said that with AI-powered face swapping and voice generating tools widely available online, it is easier for scammers to create deepfake videos.

Singapore’s PAP ‘slays’ at social media, but will it resonate with voters?

It is still “hard” to create deepfakes that can perfectly replicate victims for now, he said.

The first line of defence against deepfakes is the social media platforms but the government should also educate the less tech savvy segments of society through traditional news outlets about the threat, Ali added.

While laws and regulations have been put in place, they may not be enough as deepfakes will continue to become more realistic and harder to discern from reality in the years to come, according to Siew.

“Scammers will always find new ways to get the better of us and if we look at other forms of scams, there have always been new forms of deception. There has been a lot more awareness [campaigns], which helps, but ultimately, people need to be more aware,” he said.

Source link