AI-generated voiceover in fake campaign video targets Istanbul Mayor İmamoğlu

A campaign video for the main opposition's mayoral candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu began to circulate on social media, featuring an AI-generated voiceover. The manipulated video used İmamoğlu's voice to state "We hijacked the highest number of metro projects (from the ruling AKP)."

Duvar English

Some social media accounts on Jan. 22 shared an altered version of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s campaign video featuring an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-generated voiceover. In the montage video, İmamoğlu was made to say his administration “hijacked the highest number of metro projects” from the previous Justice and Development Party (AKP) that ran the province from 2004 to 2019.

The original campaign video promoted the metro projects completed by İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality under the 4.5-year leadership of İmamoğlu. The AI-generated video featured an altered voiceover that copied the original voices and changed their sentences.

The female student in the fake video said, “Our metro line that was 90 percent completed during the AKP period finally opened after five years,” claiming that the metro projects promoted under İmamoğlu were mostly completed in the previous AKP leadership.

In the second half of the video, the AI-cloned voice of Mayor İmamoğlu says, “Major metro projects began in the AKP period. We suspended some of them and took over the others. I am happy to say that we have become the administration who hijacked the highest number of metro projects.” 

Istanbul Municipality’s spokesperson Murat Ongun deemed the montage video a smear campaign by AKP on the road to the local elections. “Our opponent is trying out a new form of forgery! The bus sabotage, the drone incident, the voice-cloning, the fake citizens…” wrote Ongun. 

Ongun referred to the Jan. 20 drone show on Istanbul skies that spelled out, “The Istanbul Municipality under Republican People’s Party (CHP) made Istanbul the city with the most malfunctioning public buses in a day with 1,850 bus breakdowns.” No specific party claimed the display. 

AKP announced that deputy and former Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Minister Murat Kurum would run against İmamoğlu in the upcoming local elections on March 31, 2024.