AI Voice Technology Used to Create Conspiracy Videos on TikTok, at Scale

NewsGuard has identified a network of 17 TikTok accounts using AI text-to-speech software to generate videos advancing false and unsubstantiated claims, with hundreds of millions of views

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 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.

A July 2023 video, posted to an account in the network called “,” was narrated by an AI voice that NewsGuard was able to recreate using the AI text-to-speech platform ElevenLabs. In addition to having an AI narrator, the video played audio of an AI-generated Barack Obama voice reading a fabricated statement about the death of Tafari Campbell. (Screenshot via NewsGuard)

NewsGuard was able to recreate the audio introduction from the video using an AI text-to-speech software called ElevenLabs, identifying the likely voice listed under the name “Natasha – Valley Girl” on ElevenLabs’ site. 

In response to a September 2023 email from NewsGuard inquiring about whether this video was indeed produced using ElevenLabs’ software, a spokesperson for the company pointed NewsGuard to an AI speech classifier ElevenLabs offers on its site. When a NewsGuard analyst entered audio from the previously mentioned video into the classifier, the ElevenLabs tool returned a message stating: “98%. It’s very likely that this audio file was generated with ElevenLabs.”


ElevenLabs’ AI speech classifier identified the narrator’s voice in the July 2023 TikTok video linking Barack Obama to the death of his personal chef as “very likely” to have been generated with the software. (Video via NewsGuard)

In another video, this one published by an account in the network called, a polished AI voice read an Aug. 15, 2023, post on X (formerly known as Twitter) claiming that the August 2023 Maui fires were “not climate fires, they’re direct energy weapons,” and that Winfrey was somehow involved in starting the fires. There is no evidence backing either of these claims.

In an August 2023 video, which was posted by an account called, a polished AI narrator read a tweet claiming that the August 2023 fires in Maui were caused by “direct energy weapons.” (Screenshot via NewsGuard)

Earlier in the video, an audio glitch gave away the narrator’s apparent AI identity: In referring to the $6.6 million valuation of an 870-acre Maui property that Winfrey recently purchased, the narrator robotically stated that the land’s value was “a whopping dollar six point six million.” If not for this robotic glitch, a user likely would have no way to know the video was one of many videos apparently mass-generated using AI text-to-narration. As of Sept. 27, 2023, the video had received more than 562,000 views.

Moreover, in an apparent attempt to deceive viewers into believing the accounts are credible sources, NewsGuard found that 13 of the 17 accounts identified as pushing these narratives were deceptively branded to resemble mainstream news outlets, TV shows, and high-profile TikTok accounts. For example, one account uses the handle @drphilshowtv, invoking the name of the popular talk show “Dr. Phil.” Another account, @ynewstv2023, uses a name and logo closely mimicking Yahoo News. The account uses a name and logo that resemble those of E! News, a popular entertainment news website.

The profile pages for three of the accounts found by NewsGuard seemingly to have used AI to mass produce AI-generated conspiracy videos. (Screenshots via NewsGuard)

Based on the comments the videos have generated, the AI-generated content is having an impact. For example, in the comments of the video about Obama’s chef, the user Shay Lashay commented, “Obama had his ass killed.” In another video featuring an apparently AI-generated voice making the same claim, the user ricka189 wrote, “TAFARI WAS BEAT TO DEATH, AND THEN PUT IN THE POND TO STAGE A DROWNING DEATH, OBAMA KILLED HIM, AND HAD HELP DOING IT.”

In fact, on Aug. 22, 2023, the chief medical examiner of Massachusetts ruled that Campbell’s death was accidental, according to The Washington Post. 

On Sept. 19, 2023, TikTok unveiled a new feature allowing users to place disclosure labels on content they have produced with the help of AI. As of Sept. 26, 2023, however, none of the conspiracy videos NewsGuard identified as AI-narrated carried such a label. 

Asked for comment about NewsGuard’s findings, a TikTok spokesperson directed NewsGuard to the platform’s policies on misinformation and manipulated media. In a follow-up email sent to NewsGuard, the spokesperson said that TikTok had removed three of the accounts mentioned in this report for violating the platform’s impersonation policy that bars accounts from, among other things, posing as news organizations. The spokesperson also said that TikTok had removed one video identified by NewsGuard for violating the platform’s manipulated media policy and barred four videos from being algorithmically boosted for violating the platform’s misinformation guidelines. The spokesperson asked NewsGuard to not be named and to paraphrase the company’s responses.

Hafiz Malik, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, told NewsGuard in a September 2023 phone interview that the advent of AI text-to-speech technologies has greatly reduced the barriers to spreading fabricated audio on platforms, such as TikTok. “With the evolution of tools such as ElevenLabs or the like, I think they have put the whole thing on a different scale in terms of how fast you can generate (audio) deepfakes,” Malik said. “Previously, there was some delay in creation. Previously, you needed to maybe record and then maybe replay somebody’s audio. But now, in this case, it is a click of a mouse.”

Editor’s Note: This report was updated on Sept. 29, 2023, to include TikTok’s response to NewsGuard’s inquiry.