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Turkish government accused of using Bitcoin to fund deepfake propaganda

Turkish government accused of using Bitcoin to fund deepfake propaganda

Turkey’s upcoming presidential election on Sunday, May 14, is drawing global attention as it could mark the end of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decades-long reign. To make the matter even more interesting, the Turkish current government is facing some serious accusations. 

Tuncay Özkan, chairman of the Turkish opposition party (CHP), claims the has learned that the country’s government will produce deepfake propaganda material on DarkWeb against CHP ahead of the elections, local Turkish outlet Kisadalga reported on May 11.  

According to Özkan, Turkey’s Directorate of Communications had contacted Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the opposition party, to inform them that fake videos will be made against the opposition on the DarkWeb. These videos include sound and image content that was manipulated using an artificial intelligence (AI) technology known as deepfake, and Özkan the payment was made to the people who will do this manipulation with (BTC).

“They conveyed that such a thing has been done and that it is against democracy, human rights, and the law. Because they were not comfortable with their conscience, they came and told us. We also have a list of names,” said Özkan.

The claims come after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently showed an AI-generated video that made Kilicdaroglu appear as if he was praising the PKK – a militant political organization responsible for several terrorist attacks in Turkey. 

Expert raises concerns over deepfake propaganda impact

As Turkey approaches the long-awaited presidential elections, AI experts weighed on the deepfake propaganda claims. The Sunday elections are also one of the first major elections in the world to deal with such advanced AI technology.

Henry Ajder, a deepfake specialist, believes this is a concerning matter as such convincing propaganda material could have a significant impact on the final outcome. 

“If you can flood sophisticated and very human-sounding speech on large networks and inauthentic accounts with one narrative, that could obviously play a role in taking over a sphere.”

– Ajder said

While there are online tools that can verify the provenance of such content, they pose a risk of building a media hierarchy. For instance, if the content is not certified, people can label it “as fake when convenient,” Ajder said. 

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