Watch out for imitations of Robert Pattinson on TikTok. On TikTok, you can find everything from tutorials on how to apply eyeliner to the quickest and tastiest salmon dishes, as well as videos of celebrities improvising choreographies to the hottest songs of the day in the “get ready with me” category. Some of these are true; others are mockeries; and some are unquestionably more intricate and potentially deadly. These films are deepfakes, or artificial intelligence-based human image synthesis techniques, which blend and superimpose preexisting photos and videos with original videos or images using a machine learning approach called a generative adversarial network, to quote Wikipedia. Simply put, it gives the impression that you are watching Britney Spears apply nail polish while humming an Aguilera song. However, everything is artificial; you only have to pay great attention (and sometimes you can’t even) to see it. These types of movies have been proliferating recently on TikTok, fooling a lot of people due to their persuasive style. That’s what happened to Robert Pattinson as well, thanks to the 1.2 million-follower account @unreal robert, which has been accumulating a bizarre archive of deepfakes of the actor since last spring.
The videos all feature the Batman actor doing commonplace or absurd activities that, given how shy and reserved he is, he probably wouldn’t really share with the rest of the world: he munches on a carrot, plays with pots and pans like they are drumsticks, cracks jokes about his most well-known movie roles, prepares himself a snack, stoically cleans his home, and other similar activities. For instance, in one video he poses uncomfortably while dancing while sporting a pair of black trousers and a gray V-neck T-shirt. He asks the audience a question in the caption while he does so: “Dear TikTok: Who will train me on how to dance?” Strange considering that he had admitted in one of his publications to having “one of the biggest panic attacks of my life” on a party dance floor because he was so terrified of dancing in public. The most devoted Pattinson fans immediately recognized that something about the account (aside from the username, which already provided a significant hint) was off and that it was almost certainly a fake, but others fell for it and began addressing him directly in their comments and complimenting him for being ironic and “down to earth.” Even the real Robert’s pals appear to have fallen for his bizarre films, as he admitted to ES Magazine when asked about deepfakes: You just realize that we’re two years away from it being impossible to tell it apart from reality… and what on Earth am I going to do as a profession then? “It’s alarming the amount of people who know me very well and will still be like, “Why are you making these odd dancing videos on TikTok?”We are very confident that Pattinson’s career is secure, at least for the time being, and that we will continue to see him in new movies for a while (by an odd coincidence, the actor will play a clone in the upcoming movie, Mickey 17) However, the phenomena of deepfakes, which appears quite innocent when used for dancing and sardonic jokes and which also co-occurs on TikTok with other stars such as Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, and Jason Statham, contains potential worrying drifts starting from pornographic or defamatory deepfakes at the cost of celebrity to the development of fake news and virtual scams thanks to picture alteration.