Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s main political opponent has accused Russia of using deepfakes and other artificial intelligence (AI)-generated material to meddle in the country’s upcoming presidential election.
“The Russians have every interest in backing an Erdogan presidency to ensure he basically stays in power, especially since the Russians benefit [from] driving a wedge between Turkey and NATO, and they’ve been very successful at that for the past decade or so,” Sinan Ciddi, a non-Turkey resident senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital.
“So, in the past few days, weeks, it has been credibly reported by Turkish sources that Russian bot accounts, Twitter accounts, all kinds of disinformation campaigns have started pressing their thumbs down to support Erdogan’s presidency, and that’s not surprises.”
The election, scheduled for May 14 alongside parliamentary elections, has proved difficult for Erdogan as his electoral rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu maintains a slim lead in opinion polls.
META ANNOUNCES AI IMAGE GENERATION TOOLS FOR ADVERTISERS
The race has already seen another candidate, Muharrem Ince, withdraw after he claimed he was the victim of fake online “character assassination”.
Ince said an alleged sex tape posted online was created using deepfake technology, which fabricates videos and images that can look and sound like real people and events, using footage “from an Israeli porn site,” reported The Guardian.
“I don’t have an image like that, no audio recording like that,” Ince said. “This is not my private life, it’s slander. It’s not real.
“What I’ve seen in these past 45 days, I haven’t seen in 45 years.”
AI COULD BECOME THE WORLD’S WEATHER AS HUMAN-DESIGNED MODELS MAY BE LOOKING OUT
News outlets have covered cases of deepfakes and other material that many claim are from Russian agents. Another high-profile instance has seen Erdogan plays an alleged deepfake video which appeared to show Kurdish militants supporting his rival.
Kilicdaroglu accused Turkey’s “Russian friends” of responsibility for “yesterday’s release in this country of montages, textures, deepfake content”.
“If you want to continue our friendship after May 15, withdraw your hand from the Turkish state. We are still in favor of cooperation and friendship,” he said on Twitter Thursday evening in both Turkish and Russian.
Teyit, a Turkey-based verification platform that analyzes the accuracy of dubious online content, has already denied more than 150 controversial election claims, Euronews reported. Many of the claims were based on deepfake material that sought to accuse the candidates of terrorism and incivility.
HOLLYWOOD AI WRITERS’ STRIKE HIGHLIGHTS: INDUSTRY CREATIVES ‘SHOULD BE CONCERNED’ ABOUT FUTURE, EXPERT SAYS
“It’s easy to recognize that kind of content is fake, but it’s not for people who no longer think critically,” Turkish artificial intelligence expert Cem Say told Euronews.
Experts have already raised concerns about how bad actors could use AI technology to interfere in upcoming elections. Senator Pete Ricketts during a Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing earlier this year referred to China and its alleged use of deepfake videos to spread propaganda on social media platforms.
Aiden Buzzetti, president of the Bull Moose Project, told Fox News that Digital AI technology will be able to do more than create misleading deepfake images and videos.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
“The involvement of AI in elections could upend a lot of campaign strategy, from data-driven collection to dirty tricks,” Buzzetti said. “AI tools could bolster the impact of targeting specific voters to articulate an election message, as well as junk opponents.
“Unethical campaign advisers could use AI deepfake tools to create inflammatory and seemingly false portrayals of federal officials and candidates, or even, potentially illegally, use robocalls in a candidate’s voice to present them in negative and destructive ways.”
Reuters contributed to this report.