In a shocking twist leading up to Turkey’s highly anticipated presidential election, concerns over the use of deepfake propaganda have taken center stage. Tuncay Özkan, chairman of the Turkish opposition party (CHP), has made startling claims, stating that the country’s government plans to unleash a wave of deepfake videos on the DarkWeb to discredit the opposition.
These sophisticated videos, manipulated using artificial intelligence technology known as deepfake, are said to have been commissioned by the Directorate of Communications, with payments made in cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin (BTC).
Özkan revealed that the government reached out to Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition party, to inform him about the planned deepfake campaign. The fabricated videos are rumored to contain manipulated visual and audio content, aiming to paint a false narrative against the opposition party and undermine the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Özkan even claims to possess a list of individuals involved in this dubious endeavor.
This revelation follows the recent display by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who showcased an AI-generated video portraying Kilicdaroglu as expressing support for the PKK, a militant political organization responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Turkey. The emergence of deepfake technology in the political landscape has raised concerns among experts, who warn about its potential impact on the election’s outcome.
Deepfake specialist Henry Ajder expressed his apprehension regarding this alarming development, emphasizing the persuasive nature of such propaganda material and its ability to influence public opinion. Ajder highlighted the danger posed by flooding social networks and inauthentic accounts with convincingly human-sounding deepfake speeches, which can effectively shape the narrative and sway public sentiment.
While online tools exist to verify the authenticity of content, they also present a risk of creating a media hierarchy. Ajder cautioned that unverified content may be dismissed as “fake” when it aligns with individuals’ preconceived notions or biases, leading to a fragmented understanding of the truth.
The implications of this deepfake propaganda threat on Turkey’s upcoming presidential election cannot be underestimated. It represents one of the first major elections worldwide to confront the formidable challenges posed by advanced AI technology. The potential for false information to mislead voters and distort the democratic process raises urgent concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election.
As the election draws near, experts call for heightened vigilance and the development of robust countermeasures to identify and combat deepfake propaganda. Safeguarding the democratic values and ensuring a fair electoral process require concerted efforts from both authorities and citizens to stay informed, question the authenticity of online content, and protect the integrity of the democratic principles that underpin Turkey’s political landscape.
In this digital age, where technology can be both a powerful tool and a potent weapon, the stakes are high. The world watches with bated breath as Turkey navigates the perilous path towards its presidential election, grappling with the complex challenges posed by deepfake propaganda and its potential repercussions on the nation’s future.