Robert Pattinson is the latest celeb targeted by deepfakes, this time on TikTok

Robert Pattinson, the star of the Twilight saga and , told The New York Times back in 2019 that he was too old and boring to have Instagram. I only have abs, like, two weeks a year, he said, implying that he wasn’t physically fit enough for the app.

In fact, Pattinson says he doesn’t have any social media accounts. Which is why fans were excited, if a little surprised, to see his face appear in TikTok videos over the past few weeks.

The TikTok account posting those videos, @iam_pattinson, purports to be run by Pattinson, and it has amassed more than 660,000 followers since posting its first video on March 24 this year.

But commenters on the TikTok account are questioning its authenticity and say the videos appear to be deepfakes.

Deepfakes are images, sound and video that are put together using complex software and look as if they are real, or created through traditional means. They’re mostly used to transplant the heads of celebrities in pornographic videos to create convincing content of a person engaging in activities they may not actually have been part of.

Siwei Lyu, a University at Buffalo professor who researches digital forgeries and machine learning, told there were signs that the videos of Pattinson were created using high-quality deepfake technology.

One of these is the difference in ear shapes between Pattinson and the person portrayed in the videos. That’s important because ear structures are unique and Lyu says facial modelling software typically excludes the ears.

If this account isn’t run by Pattison himself (and it seems like it isn’t), the actor joins a list of celebrities who have been impersonated on the platform.

In some instances TikTok has allowed accounts to remain active on the platform, even when they are clearly full of deepfakes. One such account is graphics artist Chris Ume’s @deeptomcruise which posts videos impersonating Tom Cruise.

That account has more than 3. 4 million followers and millions of views across the videos. Ume told that he wrote an email to Cruise’s management asking whether they wanted him to take the videos down but that they never replied. Similarly, neither Pattinson nor his PR team have yet commented on the @iam_pattinson account.

But an account found to have been impersonating Dolly Parton on TikTok last year was taken down for violating the social media platform’s guidelines on impersonation after racking up more than 680,000 followers. TikTok’s guidelines state that they do not allow accounts that pose as another person or entity in a deceptive manner. But they do allow accounts that are clearly parody, commentary, or fan-based, such as where the username indicates that.

The account seeming to impersonate Pattinson walks a fine line. The caption for the account’s first video includes the hashtag #robertpattinsonedit, although whether this is a clear enough indication of parody, comedy, or fan-based content, and whether the account is indeed an impersonation, is yet to be confirmed.

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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