Jordan Peele turns Obama into foul-mouthed fake-news PSA

Jordan Peele and Buzzfeed sound the alarm on fake video news with an obscenity-laced announcement that looks like it comes from Barack Obama.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read

It starts with a clickbait-y title -- "You Won't Believe What Obama Says In This Video!" -- and then delivers on that promise. 

Buzzfeed released a video on Tuesday that at first appears to show former US President Barack Obama conveying a warning, saying "We're entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time." It then continues with Obama dropping an obscenity about President Donald Trump.

Obama didn't say these things, of course. 

The video quickly reveals it's a fake, with the Oscar-winning filmmaker, actor and writer Jordan Peele providing the voice. Peele and Buzzfeed are looking to draw attention to the growing problem of fake-news videos, which can seem startlingly real.

Buzzfeed points to the work of University of Washington computer scientists who demonstrated the ability to turn audio clips into realistic lip-synced video for a study last year. Those researchers shared a video of Obama as an example. 

Buzzfeed's video producer used a combination of Adobe After Effects video software and FakeApp, an AI program that was used to produce a popular video featuring actor Nicolas Cage in a variety of movies he didn't star in. 

The issue of fake videos is a growing problem. Earlier this year, online community Reddit banned "deepfake" pornography that uses AI to graft a person's face onto another person's body. 

Video is an especially powerful medium. The technology is getting more sophisticated and widespread and there's increased concern about how misinformation might be used to sway voters in elections

Peele concludes the faux Obama video with a call for people to be more vigilant about what they trust from the internet. The final clip is Peele's voice impersonation appearing to come from Obama and saying, "Stay woke, b*****s." 

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