Back 15.11.2019

Interview: Prophet or puppet-master? Meet the man behind the Zuckerberg deepfake, Digital Trends

Huge thanks to Maya Shwayder from Digital Trends for the in depth interview and the interest in the ways in which my practice interrogates some of the most pressing issues of our time.

Below is an excerpt with the full interview available via the link at the end.

Bill Posters is a former street artist based in the U.K. You may not know his name, but if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve likely seen his work.

He’s the man behind the recent spat of viral deepfakes: videos that make it look like various celebrities and politicians are making outrageous statements that they never really made. The videos that Posters makes are intentionally fabricated to illustrate a political point, but indicate a growing online problem: in the example below, Posters and his collaborator created this video of Mark Zuckerberg and posted it on Instagram to test the company’s policy of refusing to take down deepfake videos, he said.


View this post on Instagram

‘Imagine this…’ (2019) This deepfake moving image work is from the ‘Big Dada’ series, part of the ‘Spectre’ project. Where big data, AI, dada, and conceptual art combine. .Artworks by Bill Posters & @danyelhau #spectreknows #privacy #democracy #surveillancecapitalism #dataism #deepfake #deepfakes #contemporaryartwork #digitalart #generativeart #newmediaart #codeart #markzuckerberg #artivism #contemporaryart

A post shared by Bill Posters (@bill_posters_uk) on

Reached in the U.K. on the same day that his most recent deepfake videos dropped — videos that made it look like Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn were endorsing each other for Prime Minister in the midst of the U.K.’s snap general election — Posters said he had always been interested in exploring and challenging various forms of propaganda, even back when he was a street artist. He was drawn to digital advocacy after the 2017 Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“We had these huge revelations in the ways that these huge companies use our information online to predict the way we act,” he told Digital Trends. “The internet has been almost like a lawless country for twenty years. What we’re seeing now is the effects of the lack of understanding and lack of regulations of these technologies.”

Cambridge Analytica was a data collection agency based in the U.K. that was accused of mining and selling the private data of some 220 million Americans in an attempt to target voters and influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It was also revealed the company had done similar work in several other countries, including the U.K.

Posters produced his recent videos of Johnson and Corbyn with the U.K. think tank Future Advocacy to raise awareness of how bad actors may try to influence elections today, even if Cambridge Analytica isn’t around anymore.

View this post on Instagram

Today we’ve release a new series of #deepfake artworks with @futureadvocacy to raise awareness to the lack of regulation concerning misinformation online. These ‘partly political’ broadcasts see the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn deep faked to send a warning to all governments regarding disinformation online. For this intervention, we’ve used the biometric data of famous UK politicians to challenge the fact that without greater controls and protections concerning personal data and powerful new technologies, misinformation poses a direct risk to everyone’s human rights including the rights of those in positions of power. It’s staggering that after 3 years, the recommendations from the DCMS Select Committee enquiry into fake news or the Information Commissioner’s Office enquiry into the Cambridge Analytica scandals have not been applied to change UK laws to protect our liberty and democracy. As a result, the conditions for computational forms of propaganda and misinformation campaigns to be amplified by social media platforms are still in effect today. We’re calling on all UK political parties to apply parliaments own findings and safeguard future elections. Despite endless warnings over the past few years, politicians have collectively failed to address the issue of disinformation online. Instead the response has been to defer to tech companies to do more. The responsibility for protecting our democracy lies in the corridors of Westminster not the boardrooms of Silicon Valley. See the full videos on my website! [LINK IN BIO] #deepfakes #newmediaart #ukelection #misinformation

A post shared by Bill Posters (@bill_posters_uk) on

Read the full article here.