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Queen Elizabeth’s deepfake Christmas message a ‘stark warning’

queen-elizabeth’s-deepfake-christmas-message-a-‘stark-warning’

Queen Elizabeth II is set to make her annual Christmas speech on Friday. But viewers in the United Kingdom may be confused, as a deepfake version of the Queen is set to deliver an alternative Christmas message.

The Queen is delivering her traditional message on BBC, but another “fake” queen is set to also make a four-minute speech on U.K.’s Channel 4.

Buckingham Palace told the BBC it had no comment on the broadcast.

According to Channel 4, the “fake” queen will talk about several controversial topics, including the decision of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to leave the U.K., and the scandal surrounding her son Prince Andrew and his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

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The deepfake video is set to air at 3:25 p.m. local time on Christmas Day, while the real Queen’s Christmas message airs at 3 p.m.


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Why the deepfake?

Created by artificial intelligence or machine learning, deepfakes combine or replace content to create images that can be almost impossible to tell are not authentic.

The digitally created Queen Elizabeth is voiced by actress Debra Stephenson and created by British visual effects company Framestore.

According to Channel 4, the purpose of the deepfake message is to issue a “stark warning” about the rise of fake news and disinformation online.

“Deepfake technology can be used to create convincing, yet entirely fictional video content of people in the public eye, and therefore can be used to spread misinformation,” Channel 4 stated.“With such advancements in technology enabling a slick and believable presentation of misinformation across all areas of life, from politics to public health, it’s never been more important to seek out trusted sources.”


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Part of the video was posted online ahead of the televised speech.

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The fake Queen starts off the speech by saying: “For nearly 70 years, I have kept a tradition of speaking to you at Christmas. But on the BBC, I haven’t always been able to speak plainly and from the heart.

“So, I am grateful to Channel 4 for giving me the opportunity to say whatever I like, without anyone putting words in my mouth.”

The fake monarch then goes into details about her family and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s battle with coronavirus.

The video ends with Queen Elizabeth going into a dance routine.

The use of deepfake videos to inform the public about misinformation is nothing new.

In 2018, a video of former U.S. president Barack Obama appeared to be live — but, in fact, was computer-generated and used the voice of comedian Jordan Peele. It was created to inform people about deepfake technologies.

Another example includes a video of Mark Zuckerberg in which a convincing rendition of the Facebook co-founder tells the viewer his success comes from a secret organization. It was posted with the hashtag “#Deepfake” and was part of an art project.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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