Berlin mayor misled in deepfake conversation with ‘Klitschko’ | NOW

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey had a 15-minute video call with a man who claimed to be mayor Vitali Klitschko of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. However, it turned out to be a deepfake. Deepfake allows people to take on the shape of someone else and appear very realistic in terms of speech and movements.

“The first quarter was totally unremarkable,” said Giffey’s spokesman Lisa Frerichs. “The supposed Mr. Klitschko asked how the many Ukrainian refugees were doing, how we dealt with them, what the numbers were. A completely normal conversation, as we expected,” she says of the video call, which was planned days in advance.

In the course of the conversation, suspicions arose that it was an impostor using deepfake technology. The call was then cut off, the spokesperson said.

Doubt arose when certain topics were discussed. For example, the man wanted to talk about Ukrainians who “try to get social benefits in Berlin”. He also asked whether the German capital could advise on holding an LGBTQ+ parade in Kyiv. The connection was then broken.

The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany later confirmed that Giffey had not spoken to Klitschko and that deepfake technology was likely involved. “It is unfortunately part of the reality that the war is being waged by all means,” Giffey wrote on Twitter. Police have launched an investigation.