Tom Cruise has gone viral on the popular video-sharing app TikTok, but the clips featuring the 'Mission Impossible' star are deepfakes that experts are calling the 'most alarmingly lifelike examples' of the technology.
An account appeared on the app last week, dubbed 'deeptomcruise,' which shows a number of videos depicting Cruise doing a magic trick, playing golf and reminiscing about the time he met the former President of the Soviet Union.
The series of clips have been seen more than 11 million times on TikTok as of Tuesday, with many millions more on other social media platforms.
This is not Tom Cruise— Damian Burns (@damianburns) February 26, 2021
This is a deep fake
This probably isn't great news for Cameo pic.twitter.com/CqkzNOAFQp
Although the clips are for entertainment, experts warn that such content 'should worry us'.
Sam Gregory, a program director of witness.org, shared his concerns about the Tom Cruise deepfakes via Twitter: 'Women are already being targeted by deepfakes.'
'Seeing is no longer believing' rhetoric undermines real video.'
A video shared to the account shows deepfake Cruise wearing a festive Hawaiian shirt while kneeling in front of the camera.
The Tom Cruise deep fake TikToks are 🤯 pic.twitter.com/oVbw8tz6sM— Greg Swan (@gregswan) February 26, 2021
He shows a coin and in an instance makes it disappear - like magic.
'I want to show you some magic,' the imposter says, holding the coin.
It is the real thing, I mean it is all real,' 'Cruise' says waving his hand over his face as if to hint at the notion that he is not really the popular star.
Deepfakes were invented in 2014 by Ian Goodfellow, who was the the director of machine learning at Apple's Special Projects Group and a leader in the field.
The word stems from the collaboration of the terms 'deep learning' and 'fake,' and is a form of artificial intelligence.
The system studies a target person in pictures and videos, allowing it to capture multiple angles and mimic their behavior and speech patterns.
The technology gained attention during the election season, as many feared developers would use it to undermine political candidates' reputations.
As for now, the Tom Cruise deepfakes appear to be for entertainment purposes.
Another video shared to the TikTok account shows the impersonator on a golf course.
'What's up TikTok, you guys cool if I play some sports,' the 'star' says before grabbing a club and heading off to play.
He runs back to the camera, takes his sunglasses off and says: 'Hey listen up sports and TikTok fans, if you like what you are seeing just wait until what's coming next.'
The other clip shows Cruise walking through a clothing store where he trips, rolls over and jumps back on his feet to tell the TikTok world a joke about the time he met former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Tom Cruise deepfakes may be giving the world a laugh, but the technology is sparking fear in experts.
Leading expert Henry Ajder told the Times of London: 'This technology is not going away, there is also a huge amount of really negative and malicious use cases.'
But other experts praise the work, as the fake Cruise mirrors the speech, mannerisms and appearance of the real celebrity.
Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who specializes in the analysis of digital images, told Fortune that although he knew the clips were deepfakes they are still 'incredibly done.'
Farid may be alone with that opinion, as Rachel Tobac, the CEO of online security company SocialProof, tweeted that the videos proved we have reached a stage of almost 'undetectable Deepfakes.'
'Deepfakes will impact public trust, provide cover & plausible deniability for criminals/abusers caught on video or audio, and will be (and are) used to manipulate, humiliate, & hurt people,' she said adding they had 'real world safety, political etc impact for everyone,' she tweeted.
Regardless of what experts and the public think about imposter Cruise, TikTok does have rules against impersonations.
'You may not: [...] impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent you or your affiliation with any person or entity, including giving the impression that any content you upload, post, transmit, distribute or otherwise make available emanates from the Services,' the app's policy reads.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.