Deepfake video of Elizabeth Warren spreads on TikTok

Social media users claim footage shows US Senator Elizabeth Warren calling to restrict Republicans' voting rights to protect "the integrity" of the 2024 presidential election. This is false; digital forensics experts and the video's creator say the clip is manipulated.

"So restricting republican voting would be more fair to our democracy. Did she seriously just say that?" says a February 27, 2023 tweet sharing a TikTok video viewed more than 272,000 times.

The footage shows Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, on an MSNBC broadcast.

Screenshot of a TikTok video taken March 2, 2023

"Allowing Republicans to vote could threaten the integrity of the election and the safety of the electorate," she appears to say in the 49-second video. "Since Republicans have a history of policies that undermine the public's trust in the government, allowing them to vote could result in an outcome that does not reflect the will of the people."

GOP voting could lead to "a surge in voter suppression tactics and voter intimidation," Warren appears to add in the clip. "For these reasons, it is necessary to restrict Republican voting in the 2024 election."

But the video is a deepfake that was manipulated using artificial intelligence. Such footage, sometimes used for entertainment purposes, makes it look like someone said something they did not.

"This is clearly a fake," said Hany Farid, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley who specializes in digital forensics and image analysis.

Video is manipulated

The first iteration of the clip AFP found online was published February 20, 2023 with the hashtags #deepfake and #parody. The account has also posted digital manipulations of Hillary Clinton, Greta Thunberg and other well-known people.

But other accounts sharing the video did not include disclaimers and expressed shock at Warren's apparent comments.

The clip appears to adapt footage from a December 2022 interview in which Warren did criticize Republicans -- but did not call for restricting their voting rights.

"They screamed, they yelled, they said hateful things," the senator told MSNBC. "But they had nothing, no ideas, not even promises."

Farid said the deepfake's creator likely used a software tool to change Warren's remarks.

"The video itself is odd. It looks like a bad deepfake in which the face doesn't really look like Senator Warren," he said. "Also, in the fake, the upper body doesn't seem to move, nor does anything in the background (unlike the original). I think what was done here is that a single frame was taken from the original and a face was synthesized to be consistent with the synthesized audio track."

Siwei Lyu, director of the Media Forensic Lab at the University at Buffalo, also said his research team determined the TikTok video is a deepfake.

"We used four analysis models we developed under a federally funded research project. The evidence shows that the video is likely a deepfake, probably created using a tool called DeepFaceLab," Lyu said in an email.

AFP reached out to Warren's office and MSNBC for comment, but responses were not forthcoming.

AFP has previously debunked deepfakes and other manipulated videos.