Piers Morgan, Oprah Winfrey ‘deepfaked’ in ad of US influencer’s controversial self-help course – report

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Piers Morgan expressed concern about a deepfake advertisement featuring his and Oprah Winfrey‘s manipulated video footage to give an impression that the celebrities endorsed a controversial self-help course by an American influencer.

The advertisement, now taken down by YouTube, promoted a “manifestation” course sold by Wesley Virgin, a US influencer who describes himself as a motivational coach, the BBC reported.

In the advert, Morgan appeared to promote Genie Script’s Manifestation – a programme that claims to help a person accelerate their journey towards getting control of their life by achieving their deepest desire.

The advert seemed like a section of the journalist’s show Uncensored TV, with the video digitally manipulated so that Morgan is appearing to say "a lost old scripture that has been used by kings to attract vast riches, miraculous healing and unparalleled love”, reported BBC.

In another advertisement on Facebook and Instagram, Winfrey’s genuine footage was manipulated using deepfake to promote the course saying, “I want to give you a 20-word script... think of it like installing a new operating system into your mind that’s programmed to make you rich".

Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson was also seen chatting about her recipes and work in one such fake advert.

“I went on vacation and met this man at a very exclusive party. His name was Wesley and he handed me this hidden Bible page that was locked away in somebody’s room,” her AI generated fake voice is heard saying.

Deepfakes are doctored audio-visual material created using artificial intelligence and they mostly involve the production of a fake “face” that is merged with an authentic video to create footage of an event that did not take place.

AI-generated videos can look very convincing and deceive viewers easily.

Expressing his concerns about the AI, Morgan told the British broadcaster that the advertisement was “another example of a very worrying trend of public figures being misused by deepfake AI manipulators for financial gain".

"The real victims will be members of the public who unwittingly buy these products believing the celebrity endorsements are genuine," he said. Oprah, meanwhile, confirmed not endorsing the product.

Several prominent figures across the world have expressed concern over the use of deepfakes. Indian prime minister Narendra Modi last year called the misuse of deepfake technology “worrying”, citing an example of a fake video of him performing the traditional Gujarati dance of garba.

“Due to Artificial Intelligence and especially because of deepfake (technology), a new crisis has emerged. A significant section of Bharat (India) is such that it does not have the means necessary for verification or to authenticate,” Mr Modi said at a special Diwali programme held at the BJP headquarters.

“I just watched a video in which I was doing garba; even I was impressed at how well it has been made but it has been made using Artificial Intelligence,” he said.

In March 2022, Facebook removed a deepfake video on its platform that claimed to show Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky urging his country’s troops to surrender to the invading Russian forces.

Pornographic deepfake images of Taylor Swift were widely circulated on Twitter/X despite the platform’s rules against such media.

The nonconsensual images, which appear to have been made using AI, showed the pop star in sexually suggestive and explicit positions.

US media reports that some posts sharing the images amassed more than 27 million views and 260,000 likes in 19 hours, before the account that posted the images was suspended.

The Independent has reached out to Morgan for comment.