Deepfake video used to falsely claim Donald Trump endorsed Nigerian presidential candidate Peter Obi

  • This article is more than one year old.
  • Published on January 14, 2023 at 18:38
  • Updated on April 26, 2024 at 14:36
  • 4 min read
  • By Erin FLANAGAN, AFP Africa
A video viewed thousands of times on  TikTok appears to show former US leader Donald Trump endorsing Nigerian presidential candidate Peter Obi ahead of the country’s general elections in February. However, AFP Fact Check found the clip was digitally altered.  It was posted on a TikTok account that uses artificial intelligence to make deepfakes of famous people. The original footage was shot during Trump's presidency while was holding a news conference on COVID-19 at the White House.

The video, viewed more than 69,000 times, shows Trump giving a press conference in the official White House Press Briefing Room. 

In the clip, he appears to say that he supports Peter Obi, the Labour Party’s (LP) presidential candidate for the Nigerian general election scheduled for February 25, 2023.

“I think I’m going to support Peter Obi because he is the man who is so much concerned with accountability,” Trump appears to say in the TikTok clip published on December 29, 2022.  “You know, this alone would solve major problems that they face right now. Good luck, LP.” 

A screenshot of the false post, taken on January 13, 2023

Nigerians head to the polls in February to elect President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor, along with governors for the majority of the 36 states as well as federal and state lawmakers.

Obi has emerged as one of the top three presidential contenders among the 18 candidates, enjoying significant support from young people. 

Former Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo and several other notable figures in Nigeria have recently endorsed him. 

But the claim that Trump has endorsed Obi is false.

Video from 2020 

By doing a keyword search for “Donald Trump press conference,” AFP Fact Check found the original footage from the July 23, 2020, press conference held while former President Trump was still in office. 

AFP Fact Check verified several elements to confirm that this is the same footage seen in the deepfake.

In both videos, a map of California appears to Trump's right. He is also wearing the same outfit.

But most strikingly, from approximately 14’50” to 14’59”, Trump’s movements in the original video align with those seen in the TikTok clip – everything is the same except for the movements of his mouth. 

In the original video, however, he is speaking not about Obi, but about school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A screenshot of the false post, taken on January 13, 2023,
A screenshot of the original video from July 24, 2020, taken on January 13, 2023

Beginning at 14:50 in the original video, he says: "It’s a tremendous problem. It’s a tremendous problem. Schools have to open safely but they have to open. More than a dozen European countries, as well as South Korea, Taiwan, and many others, have already reopened schools and cases have not risen." 

Moreover, the owner of the account that posted the deepfake video told AFP that it was made using artificial intelligence. 

"The AI did all," the account owner, who describes himself as a digital marketer and content creator, said via a WhatsApp message. He captioned another one of his videos with the hashtag AI.

While comments on the Trump video suggest many viewers realise it is not real, some seem to believe the former US president indeed endorsed Obi.  

The timing is off

The original video was filmed and posted online in July 2020 during Trump’s presidency, which ended on January 20, 2021.   

Since then, he has not returned to give a press conference at the White House, a privilege reserved for sitting presidents and their staff. 

Obi only defected from his former party, the People's Democratic Party (PDP), on May 25, 2022.

He did not join the Labour Party until May 27, 2022, and became the party’s presidential candidate on May 30, 2022 – more than a year after Trump left office.

Deepfake technology

The growing use of artificial intelligence has sparked worldwide concerns about election integrity, including the potential role deepfakes could play in spreading misinformation among voters.

When asked about his motivation, the owner of the account that shared the video wrote: "No one asked me to do the video. Maybe I should say I’m a lone campaigner who is motivated by past records of the presidential candidate: Peter Obi." 

"I feel he’s capable of improving the present situation and change (sic) the wrong narrative about my country," he added.

Disinformation around Nigeria poll

Disinformation has dogged campaigning ahead of next month’s polls.  

Supporters of the Labour Party’s presidential candidate have promoted fake endorsements of Obi's presidency in recent months. 

AFP Fact Check has debunked several other claims that public figures in the United States have endorsed Obi. 

 You can find our other election-related coverage here.

Metadata updated
April 26, 2024 Metadata updated

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