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‘Beware!!’: Tom Hanks warns fans about fake ad using AI version of him

FILE - Tom Hanks in October 2023 warned his fans not to fall for an AI-generated advertisement using his likeness without permission. Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People's Choice Awards

Actor Tom Hanks has warned his fans not to fall victim to an advertisement using a fake photo of him generated by artificial intelligence (AI).

On Saturday, the 67-year-old film star said the advertisement was using his likeness without his permission to hawk a dental plan.

Hanks shared a screenshot of the ad to Instagram with the caption, “Beware!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it.”

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The AI-generated Hanks appears to have been aged down in the advertisement.

Hanks did not reveal the company name or where the advertisement was being shown, and his representatives have declined comment.

Gayle King issues a similar warning

Only one day after Hanks’ warning, Gayle King also shared a message warning her followers about a fraudulent video advertisement using her likeness. The CBS Mornings host said malicious advertisers used AI to manipulate a legitimate video of King promoting her radio show in August.

“People keep sending me this video and asking about this product and I have NOTHING to do with this company,” King wrote. “They’ve manipulated my voice and video to make it seem like I’m promoting it.”

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King posted the AI weight loss advertisement to Instagram, with the words “Fake Video” stamped overtop. She also included footage from her original radio show promotion to prove that the advertisement had been doctored.

“I’ve never heard of this product or used it! Please don’t be fooled by these AI videos,” she concluded.

King did not specify where the advertisement was being shown.

Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, told the New York Times in an email that it is “against our policies to run ads that use public figures in a deceptive nature in order to try to scam people out of money.”

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“We have put substantial resources towards tackling these kinds of ads and have improved our enforcement significantly, including suspending and deleting accounts, pages and ads that violate our policies,” the statement continued.

‘Disturbing’ AI recreations

Even after death, celebrities are not immune to AI manipulation.

Zelda Williams, the daughter of iconic comedian and actor Robin Williams, on Sunday said her father’s image and voice had been replicated by AI and shared online.

In a statement posted to her Instagram story, Zelda called AI-generated content featuring her father’s likeness “disturbing.”

Robin died by suicide in 2014.

“I am not an impartial voice in SAG’s fight against AI,” Zelda wrote. “I’ve witnessed for YEARS how many people want to train these models to create/recreate actors who cannot consent, like Dad. This isn’t theoretical, it is very very real.

“I’ve already heard AI used to get his ‘voice’ to say whatever people want and while I find it personally disturbing, the ramifications go far beyond my own feelings,” Zelda continued. “Living actors deserve a chance to create characters with their choices, to voice cartoons, to put their HUMAN effort and time into the pursuit of performance.”

Zelda called AI-generated versions of actors “at their worst, a horrendous Frankenstein monster, cobbled together from the worst bits of everything this industry is, instead of what it should stand for.”

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Zelda Williams’ Instagram story on Oct. 1, 2023. Instagram @zeldawilliams

What can be done?

This is far from the first time actors like Hanks have expressed worry about the use of AI in the entertainment industry.

Earlier this year, Hanks voiced his concern about AI and internet deepfakes when he appeared as a guest on The Adam Buxton Podcast. Hanks said he first began to worry after starring in the 2004 Christmas film The Polar Express, which saw Hanks and a cast of others animated using motion-capture technology.

“We saw that there was going to be this ability in order to take zeros and ones inside a computer and turn it into a face and a character,” Hanks said in the interview. “Now, that has only grown a billion-fold since then and we see it everywhere.”

“We saw this coming,” Hanks said of AI.

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Hanks also saw the Hollywood strikes coming. Much of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes have involved the use of AI as a key sticking point.

On The Adam Buxton Podcast, Hanks said there were “discussions going on in all of the guilds, all of the agencies and all of the legal firms in order to come up with the legal ramifications of my face and my voice — and everybody else’s — being our intellectual property.”

Hanks said the technology could allow studios to perpetually create movies starring AI versions of him at various, younger ages. He said he could be “hit by a bus tomorrow” and still have his likeness star in future performances.

“Outside of the understanding that it’s being done by AI or deepfake, there’ll be nothing to tell you that it’s not me and me alone — and it’s going to have some degree of lifelike quality,” he said. “That’s certainly an artistic challenge, but it’s also a legal one.”

The WGA strike was declared over this month after board members approved a contract agreement with studios. The agreement prohibits studios from using AI to write or rewrite material.

Click to play video: 'Hollywood writers, studios reach tentative deal to end strike'
Hollywood writers, studios reach tentative deal to end strike

SAG-AFTRA members are still on strike.

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In Canada, the Liberal government last year introduced legislation that proposed new rules for the use of AI. The proposal came as part of a federal privacy bill to give Canadians more control over how their personal data is used by commercial entities.

Click to play video: 'Government introduces new privacy bill to give Canadians more control over online data'
Government introduces new privacy bill to give Canadians more control over online data

Numerous civil society organizations, experts and academics have called on the government to amend its proposal so that AI is considered separately. Advocates have argued the existing AI section of the bill fails to protect the rights and freedoms of people from the risks of AI.

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