Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, is doing an 80s-inspired workout right before my very eyes. A red headband covers his spherical bald head, and his groin is tightly packed into a bright blue unitard. As he stretches and flexes to the song “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, it becomes increasingly apparent that the video – sadly – is synthetically produced. The clip has been made by @1facerussia, a TikTok account that focuses solely on “deepfaking” Putin. Videos include everything from Putin dancing and playing tug of war with Boris Johnson to light sabering with Joe Biden.
The improvement in the quality and sophistication of these deep fakes means it won’t be long before we struggle to discern fact from fiction, authentic from synthetic, or Putin from Jane Fonda. Take the recent viral deepfake made by Tom Cruise, for example; it may just be the most realistic yet. The videos, made by @deeptomcruise, show the actor practising a golf swing and doing a magic trick with a coin, leave you feeling somewhat dumbfounded over the likeness.