By Coalter Palmer | Published on Sept. 28, 2023
A network of 17 TikTok accounts appears to be leveraging hyper-realistic audio AI voice technology to gain hundreds of millions of views on conspiracy content that sounds authentically human, NewsGuard has found. The accounts seem to be using AI text-to-speech software to instantly generate narration and other voices in the videos, demonstrating a novel way bad actors can leverage AI software to quickly and cheaply produce false content that reaches vast audiences.
In September 2023, NewsGuard found that since the first of these accounts began posting in June 2023, the network has produced approximately 5,000 videos, many featuring voiceovers apparently generated by AI. In total, videos posted to these accounts have received 336 million views and 14.5 million likes as of Sept. 25, 2023.
Baseless narratives pushed by the AI narrators in these videos include the claim that former U.S. President Barack Obama was connected to the death of his personal chef Tafari Campbell; that TV show host Oprah Winfrey is a “sex trader”; that actor Jamie Foxx was left paralyzed and blind by the COVID-19 vaccine; and that comedian Joan Rivers was murdered for claiming that Obama was gay.
For example, a July 2023 video posted by an account that goes by @e.news.tv featured a female narrator with a polished tone delivering a three-minute “news” report that baselessly linked Obama to the death of his personal chef. The video began with an AI narrator stating, “Obama has reacted to Sherise Campbell blaming him for the death of her husband Tafari Campbell. Here’s what he had to say about it.”
This introduction, seemingly read by an AI narrator, was followed by audio of a robotic, clearly AI-generated “Obama” reading a statement on Campbell’s death. “While I cannot comprehend the basis of the allegations made against me, I urge everyone to remember the importance of unity, understanding, and not rushing to judgements,” the Obama voice stated. As of Sept. 27, 2023, the video had garnered more than 50,700 views on TikTok.
In fact, a Politifact review found no evidence that Campbell’s wife has ever blamed Obama for the death of her husband, and there is no evidence of the authenticity of the statement being read by the Obama AI voice.