Deepfake of Hillary Clinton endorsing Ron DeSantis recirculates online

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A video that appears to show Hillary Clinton endorsing Ron DeSantis for president is spreading online as the Florida governor prepares to launch a 2024 US election bid. But the clip is manipulated; it includes fabricated audio dubbed over a December 2021 interview featuring the former secretary of state, who has criticized DeSantis's presidential ambitions.

"BREAKING: Hillary Clinton has officially endorsed Governor Ron DeSantis for President in 2024," said the caption of a now-deleted tweet sharing the video May 23, 2023.

The post came after reports that DeSantis, the Republican governor of the US state of Florida, would announce his candidacy May 24 during a live chat with Twitter owner Elon Musk on the site's audio platform. DeSantis filed papers with the Federal Election Commission ahead of the announcement.

Screenshot of an archived tweet taken May 24, 2023

The 25-second clip appears to show an MSNBC interview with "HILLARY CLINTON ENDORSES DESANTIS" in the lower third.

"You know, people might be surprised to hear me say this, but I actually like Ron DeSantis a lot," Clinton, a former Democratic presidential nominee, appears to say.

"Yeah, I know. I'd say he's just the kind of guy this country needs, and I really mean that. If Ron DeSantis got installed as president, I'd be fine with that. I mean, the one thing I know about Ron is that when push comes to shove, Ron does what he's told, and I can't think of anything more important than that. Hail hydra."

But the video is not authentic -- it is a deepfake that has circulated across Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms since April 2023.

A watermark below the MSNBC logo indicates the clip comes from a pro-Donald Trump meme account called "Ramble Rants," which has previously shared altered videos, including one of Vice President Kamala Harris.

The account said in a Twitter reply that it created the Clinton video with the help of another account called "CP3Meme."

The two creators acknowledged the clip is fake in several subsequent tweets, in captions on Instagram posts and YouTube videos, and in comments to the Daily Dot.

A reverse image search reveals the video layers fabricated audio over an MSNBC preview (archived here) of a December 2021 interview featuring Clinton on the NBC News program "Sunday Today." Her outfit and the backdrop match the clip shared online.

Another sign the video in the posts is manipulated: Clinton's lips are out of sync with the audio. And the phrase at the end of the clip, "Hail Hydra," references a fictional terrorist organization from Marvel comics that has become fodder for memes.

Clinton has also not endorsed DeSantis -- in fact, she responded to news of his campaign by tweeting a jab about his record as governor.

"Ron DeSantis's ultra-MAGA Florida isn't safe for people of color, LGBTQ+ people, or even multi-billion dollar corporations," she said in the May 23 post (archived here).

DeSantis will join an increasingly crowded Republican primary headlined by Trump, who has retained his frontrunner status despite being embroiled in a firestorm of criminal investigations.

AFP has debunked other deepfake videos -- which have become increasingly common with advances in artificial intelligence technology -- here, here and here.

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