The deepfakes, which were interspersed amongst legitimate photos of Trump and Fauci together, have ignited conversations surrounding the use of AI-generated content, a tactic employed by both Republican frontrunners to varying degrees.
The clip begins with footage of Trump repeating his famous line, "You're fired" on TV before abruptly switching to him talking about whether he would get rid of Fauci.
In the middle of the ad, a collage of six images is shown, three of which are real, and three that have been generated by AI. In the real images, Trump and Fauci are simply near one another, while the doctored photos show them embracing. In two of them, the former president appears to be kissing Fauci.
The story was picked up by Agence France-Presse's fact checking division, and quickly spread across social media, with many criticizing DeSantis for being dishonest.
DeSantis' Rapid Response Director Christina Pushaw addressed the controversy by pointing out that Trump had, on numerous occasions, posted doctored images of the Florida governor.
"I think this might be an AI-generated image. Who knows?" she tweeted alongside a picture of DeSantis riding a rhinoceros that Trump had shared on Truth Social as well as to Instagram.
Tim Pool was among the many calling DeSantis out, and responded sarcastically to Pushaw's suggestion that the image of the Florida governor riding a rhinoceros was in the same league as the pictures in the ad.
Journalist Yaakov Strasberg highlighted another example of Trump using deepfake technology to smear DeSantis following his Twitter Spaces campaign launch.
In the clip, which was widely shared, DeSantis' Space was filled with the likes of George Soros, Klaus Schwab, Adolph Hitler, and the Devil, all of whom spoke in eerily realistic AI-generated voices.
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