Ukranian News Channel Hacked to Run Deepfake video of President Zelensky

Ukranian News Channel Hacked to Run Deepfake video of President Zelensky

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have already deleted the deepfake video in which fake Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was urging Ukrainians to surrender to Russia.

On March 16th, the Ukrainian news outlet, Ukraine 24, posted an update on Facebook that a message from the Ukrainian president added to its broadcast was fake. The outlet confirmed that the video appeared after the network got hacked.

It is worth noting that this deepfake video appeared on multiple social media platforms and was widely circulated online. 

The hack goes on to show that while Anonymous hackers are taking over Russian TV stations to telecast pro-Ukraine content, those in favor of President Putin are also not far behind from their opposition.

Content of the Video

In a poorly done video, the Ukrainian premier stood behind a presidential podium wearing a green-colored shirt. The backdrop in front of him featured the country’s coat of arms. Zelensky addressed in the Ukrainian language, informing the citizens to surrender to Russia and put their weapons down. The video appeared on social media on March 15th, 2022.

Ukranian News Channel Hacked to Run Deepfake video of President Zelensky
Screenshot from the now deleted deepfake video of President Zelensky

Here’s the English translation of Ukraine 24’s message informing that the Today website and the TV channel were hacked to broadcast a fake capitulation message from Zelensky:

The running line of the “Ukraine 24” TV channel and the “Today” website was hacked by enemy hackers and broadcast Zelensky’s message about alleged “capitulation.” THIS IS FAKE! FAKE! Friends, we have repeatedly warned about this. No one is going to give up. Especially, in the circumstances when the Russian army suffers losses in battles with the Ukrainian army!

Ukraine 24

Zelensky Addresses the Surrender Rumors

Since numerous media outlets reported the video, people became confused about whether Ukraine is surrendering for real or not. To address these rumors, President Zelensky posted a video on his Facebook page. The video was captioned:

“Ми вдома і захищаємо Україну,” which in English means:  “We are at home and defending Ukraine.”

President Zelensky

Eventually, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter removed the fake video.

What is a Deepfake Video and How to Spot it?

Deepfakes is a term coined after combining Deep Learning and Fake. It basically refers to digitally edited, realistic-looking, but fake audio or video files created using easily available AI technology.

Such videos aim to spread misinformation by portraying someone as doing or saying something they actually didn’t. The same happened in the case of President Zelensky’s deepfake video.

You can detect deepfake videos by focusing on specific details. Such as, in Zelensky’s video, the premier’s head is unusually large and doesn’t correctly fit on his neck. Moreover, always check the source of the video.

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