Tom Cruise has surprised everyone by going viral online recently – most of all Tom Cruise himself! In a bizarre twist of events, videos of the famous celebrity acting star emerged of him perfecting his golf swing, telling strange stories and even doing magic tricks. And yet it turned out to be a hoax! The videos all came from a single TikTok account playfully called @deeptomcruise, which turned out to be a project set up to raise awareness for the potential of deep fakes.
Deep fakes have been around in technology since the early 1990s and the beginning of computers. Deepfakes as we know them now however have only begun to expand their reach in the last few years. It wasn’t until 2018 even that deep fake technology moved away from its previous focus on the face and into translating full body movements.
It was a manipulation of Jimmy Falon’s 2016 Donald Trump sketch on NBC’s The Tonight Show in 2019 when deep fakes really came to the public’s attention. In the original short video clip, the host is seen dressed and acting as Trump in the sketch, while in the 2019 version, digital manipulation has made the whole scene far more convincing.
Speculation around deep fakes has for a long time suggested we should fear its possibilities for manipulation. Many worry about the implications for fake news and alternative truths that could infiltrate the depths of the internet as a result, all in a time before we are quite sure how to regulate such things. So far however, most deep fakes have been used to subjugate women further with slut shaming and revenge porn.
The creator of this latest deep fake however says he thinks there is not so much to worry about yet. For right now at least there is a significant skill set and technological understanding necessary to make such convincing fakes.