Videos circulating on Facebook appear to show BBC presenters promoting an Elon Musk investment project that supposedly earns British residents up to £5,700 a day. However, these videos have been altered using artificial intelligence (AI).
The BBC confirmed to Full Fact the videos are fake.
The videos appear to be a specific type of fake content known as deepfakes. This means artificial intelligence has been used to create original images, audio and videos that can be used to convincingly imitate real people.
Full Fact has written about online content generated by AI before, including images of Julian Assange, Pope Francis, Donald Trump, President Macron, as well as Prince Harry and Prince William. This type of imagery can be very convincing and spread quickly online—you can read our guide on how to identify AI content here.
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The videos appear to show the BBC presenters introducing Mr Musk to talk about his “new investment project”, which they claim involves “new supercomputer analysis” using AI.
In each video, the presenters follow almost identical scripts, saying “all the British residents [sic] no longer need to work” and can now “earn up to £5,700 a day”. They go on to show separate clips of Elon Musk where he’s supposedly talking about the project.
However, Full Fact traced the original version of the clip of Ms Bundock, which has different audio. The real footage actually shows her introducing a news segment about Mr Musk’s first interview following his takeover of Twitter, now X.
Although we have not identified the specific clip of Mr Amrioliwala edited for use in the deepfake, there are many videos of Mr Amroliwala wearing these clothes with the same studio background. None that we could find show him talking about the alleged investment scheme.
The clips of Mr Musk come from footage of an interview he did with the Wall Street Journal—not the BBC— and him speaking at Tesla’s annual investor day. These clips also have different audio to that which is shown in the videos on social media.
The fake clips include banners and subtitles that differ from the BBC’s conventional branding and format, which is another other clue that they are not genuine videos.
An advanced google search for ‘New Investment project from Elon Musk’ did not show any official announcements or credible reports of such a project promoted in the videos.
Dr Dominic Lees, an Associate Professor in Filmmaking and convenor of the University of Reading’s Synthetic Media Research Network, says the videos use “voice cloning”, which he said can be achieved with freely available software.
He told Full Fact that as little as 15 seconds of real speech can be used as “training data” by AI to identify speech patterns for cloning. Anyone can then type text to be “read aloud by the algorithm”.
Dr Lees said: “Low-grade versions of such voice cloning create very unnatural results, as we can hear in the fake version of Elon Musk. Viewers should always beware of online content—if it feels unnatural, then it is probably fake.”
Telltale signs of deepfake content include unnatural cadences that make the voice sound robotic, poor lip syncing and haziness around the lips and mouth area. In particular, Dr Lees said deepfakes “find it very difficult to generate a natural look in the teeth so often leave this blurry and out-of-focus.”
One post includes an external link to a fake BBC News article about the alleged investment project. The headline reads: “SPECIAL REPORT: Tesla launches its newest platform Quantum AI™ - aims to help families become wealthier”.
However, not only are the branding and page address different from the genuine BBC website, the buttons all link to a sign-up box and instructions for joining the “investment project”. This includes a supposed first-person account of someone giving their card details to a “personal account manager” over the phone.
Posts offering fake deals are very common on Facebook. Full Fact has previously written about other posts with external links to websites that are not what they seem, including posts promoting bargain online offers at Wilko, Amazon packages for £2 and MacBook Pros for £1 at Argos.
It’s always worth checking online offers that seem too good to be true. One way to verify this is to see whether the offer has been shared by the company’s official page—this will often have more followers, a verified blue tick on platforms like Facebook or Instagram and a longer post history.