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Hacked News Channel and Zelenskyy Surrender Deepfake Cause Online Chaos

A Ukrainian TV news outlet claims its live stream and website were hacked on Wednesday, with a chyron incorrectly saying Ukraine has surrendered, Ukraine 24 said in a Facebook post.

Ukraine 24 posted a warning on Facebook that its broadcast and website were hacked. Adding to the chaos, a deepfake video of Zelenskyy appearing to tell Ukrainians to surrender started going viral online at the same time. Zelenskyy himself has since posted a video say that Ukraine will not surrender to Russia.

“Ukraine 24” TV channel and “Today” website were hacked by enemy hackers and broadcast Zelenskyy’s message about an alleged “surrender”❗️❗️❗️ THIS IS FALSE! FALSE!” Ukrainian Post 24 said.

In a fake video that began spreading on social media on Wednesday, following the Ukraine24 hack, Zelenskyy appeared to stand at a podium and address Ukrainian “defenders”, telling them to lay down their arms and to return to their families. According to an archived version from Wednesday’s Ukraine 24 site, as well as screenshots shared by reporters on Twitter, a transcript of the deepfake video can be seen:

Dear Ukrainians! Dear Defenders! Being president has not been so easy. I have to make tough decisions. At first I decided to return to the Donbass. It’s time to look into the eyes. It did not work. It only got worse. Much worse. There is no more tomorrow. At least in me. And now I decide to say goodbye to you. I advise you to lay down your arms and return to your families. You should not die in this war. I advise you to live, and I will do the same.

The Ukraine 24 website is still down and no one has claimed responsibility for the alleged hack or fake video.

On March 2, the official Facebook account of the Ukrainian Ground Forces posted a warning on the deepfake videos: “Imagine seeing Vladimir Zelenskyy on TV making a statement of surrender. You see it, you hear it – so it’s true. But that’s not the truth! This is deepfake technology,” he wrote. “It will not be a real video, but created using machine learning algorithms. Videos made using such technologies are almost indistinguishable from real ones.

Ukraine’s defense intelligence services have also warned against deep misinformation since early March, saying Russia may try to use fake AI-generated video in its favor:

The one spreading across social media today is actually pretty easy to tell from the real thing: His head looks like it’s been glued to a still photo of his body standing on a podium. His face moves quite convincingly – it’s blinking, after all, something deep-sensing experts claimed couldn’t be replicated by the AI ​​– but it doesn’t look natural enough to fool anyone. looks for more than one glance pass. He combines the video with an AI version of his voice, which sounds stilted and mechanical.

After the alleged hack, Ukraine 24 released a (real) video of Zelenskyy speaking to a phone camera to deny the claims made during the hack and claim that Ukraine was not, in fact, surrendering.

“This was a childish provocation about a supposed deal to ‘lay down arms’. I can say that the only people I can ask to lay down arms are the Russians,” Zelensky said in his message, according to a translation by Newsweek.

US Senator Marco Rubio also posted Zelenskyy’s debunking video on Twitter. Rubio alleges the Ukrainian president is talking about the deepfake video—Rubio advocated for more internet protections against deepfakes in the past.

Since the advent of deepfake technology for casual use end of 2017people fear that malicious deepfakes are being used for political purposes in the United States – to start a war, deceive the public, or spread fake news faster than the already rampant disinformation on social media through more rudimentary means like the text and fake photos. Earlier this monthnetizens tried to claim that Russia faked President Vladimir Putin in meeting videos, which was not true.

In nearly five years, a deepfake president has yet to cause any country to launch nuclear weapons, but in the middle almost constant misinformation spilling over on Russia’s war on Ukraine, a media hack and a shitty AI-generated video just add to the pile.