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by Sofia Villegas
07 June 2024
Politicians targeted with deepfakes ahead of general election

Deepfakes of politicians are flooding social media feeds | Alamy

Politicians targeted with deepfakes ahead of general election

A number of politicians standing for a seat in the general election have been targeted with deepfakes.  

Labour's Wes Streeting, who is standing to be re-elected as the MP for Ilford North, is the latest politician to fall victim of a doctored video.

The clip shows Streeting, who is also the UK shadow health secretary, calling fellow politician Diane Abbott a “silly woman” during an interview on BBC’s Politics Live show.

A username, called Men4Wes, uploaded the doctored clip onto X, calling Streeting a “disgraceful human being” and saying the Labour Party is “full of really nasty people”.

The Labour candidate has now taken to X to debunk the video, claiming that so far, it had “only fooled the gullible”.

X has now suspended the Men for Wes account.

Streeting is not the first Labour candidate to be a victim of a deepfake case ahead of July 4. A fake video of Labour’s North Durham candidate Luke Akehurst was also recently shared on the social platform.

In the video, he is falsely portrayed as saying he is “just going to walk in and win the seat” and that he would be elected by "thick" Geordies.

The video has 264,000 views and has been retweeted more than 800 times.

The account, named chai_ste, remains active on the social platform.

Both clips have now been labelled as “manipulated media” by X.

The Man for Wes account told BBC it aimed its video to "muddy the waters" for viewers, describing them as "corrective" to the ways that politicians "misrepresent who they really are".

Nigel Farage, who recently announced that he will run for parliament as Reform UK’s leader, has also been a victim of a doctored creation.

In the video, he appears to make an obscene reference to bodily fluids while discussing the recent incident where a milkshake was thrown at him.

Deepfakes are an issue on the rise. A month ago, a deepfake video of First Minister John Swinney went viral on social media. The full video is still on X. It has 10,000 views and has been re-tweeted 60 times.

The same user behind this deepfake has continued to upload doctored clips since. These creations target a number of Scottish politicians, including Green party co-leader Patrick Harvie, Green MSP Maggie Chapman, and SNP candidate for Alloa and Grangemouth, John Nicolson, who until May 30, was the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire.

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