Deepfake controversy surrounds Le Pen family ahead of EU elections

These digitally manipulated clips, circulating widely on platforms like TikTok, have raised concerns about the influence of AI-generated content on political discourse.

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Deepfake videos depicting fictitious members of the Le Pen family surfaced online, stirring controversy as France’s far-right parties gear up for the upcoming EU elections. These videos, featuring fabricated personas engaging in provocative behaviour and promoting far-right agendas, spread rapidly on platforms like TikTok.

Despite efforts to delete some of these accounts, the videos garnered millions of views before being flagged. The Le Pen family expressed discontent, while the ‘Reconquête!’ party, one of the implicated groups, reported the content to TikTok. Ironically, politicians who opposed such measures earlier over concerns about ‘authoritarian measures’ now find themselves at odds with the consequences.

Despite delays in France’s implementation of the Digital Services Act (DSA), which suggests a gap in addressing the spread of deepfakes, companies are bound by the DSA through direct EU application. Nevertheless, concerns over the integrity of elections persist, with platforms and policymakers striving to combat deceptive AI use.

Why does it matter? 

The need to combat deepfakes has become increasingly apparent in light of recent events, notably the dissemination of a manipulated audio clip depicting a political figure confessing to election manipulation in Slovakia. Despite the 17 February 2024 deadline, many EU countries, including France, need to catch up in establishing key administrative bodies to address this issue. These bodies are tasked to designate ‘trusted flaggers’, organisations that play a vital role in identifying and flagging deceptive content to platforms.