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US president Joe Biden did not warn of South African sanctions if ruling ANC wins 2024 elections – ignore AI-generated video

IN SHORT: A video circulating on social media shows US president Joe Biden allegedly threatening to sanction South Africa if the governing African National Congress wins the 2024 elections. But it was generated by an AI tool and should be ignored. 

South Africa will be sanctioned if the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wins the elections on 29 May 2024. That’s according to a video circulating on the short-form video platform TikTok. 

It appears to show US president Joe Biden talking about the sanctions. The same video can be found on Facebook and Twitter, and was also sent to us by subscribers to our What’s Crap on WhatsApp? line.

The ANC has been in power for 30 years. According to opinion polls, the party could lose the parliamentary majority it has held since 1994 in the May 2024 elections.

In the TikTok video, Biden can be heard saying: 

If the ANC wins the next election, we will impose immediate sanctions and declare South Africa an enemy state. The whole of the European Union will back us with this and together we will fight for the freedom of South Africans. This is our message to the world.

When a country is sanctioned, trade is restricted or stopped altogether in an attempt to penalise the country for failing to comply with international laws. 

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic organisation of 27 member states located primarily in Europe. 

With South Africans heading to the polls in May, there is already an uptick in election-related misinformation doing the rounds on social media. 

There are currently no sanctions on South Africa by the EU. But did Biden say there would be “immediate sanctions” on the country if the ANC won the elections? We checked.

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Yet another AI-generated video

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can be used to create content that impersonates a well-known person. AI tools analyse a person’s voice, mouth and facial movements using available footage, such as TV interviews, and can then create a new video in which the famous person appears to say something completely different. This is known as a deepfake

There are some signs that the Biden video was AI-generated, like the general graininess of the video. Biden’s mouth movements also seem robotic, another telltale sign that the video was generated using AI tools. 

A Google reverse image search of a screenshot from the video brings up many other instances of the AI-generated clip, in which Biden appears to make quite different claims. Some versions show the president apparently speaking languages other than English.

Be suspicious of videos of a famous person making a multitude of different claims, especially if all the videos look identical. 

We found no reports by credible media organisations of Biden’s threat to sanction South Africa based on the outcome of the 2024 elections. This is another red flag because a statement like this would make international headlines. 

Video made easily with free celebrity voice generator

The biggest giveaway that the video is AI-generated is the watermark text on it that reads “made with”. Parrot AI is a free online celebrity voice generator.

Content using the voice and video of many celebrities can be easily produced and downloaded through the generator, without the need to create an account or provide an email address.

We followed the steps of the AI generator and were also able to easily generate a video that appeared to show Biden.

AI Insert

We clicked the “try online” button and selected “Joe Biden AI Voice”. The next step was to type in the words we wanted “Biden” to say (here, removing the watermark would have required paying a subscription fee).

AI Insert

Once generated, our video looked identical to the one posted on TikTok.

AI Insert

Anyone can create these videos and that makes them a dangerous tool for spreading disinformation. These videos can spread quickly on social media and have the potential to cause confusion during elections.

We’ve already debunked other AI-generated videos that appear to show celebrities speaking about South African politics. 

Follow our guide on spotting AI-generated images and videos to stay ahead of these AI trends.

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