Claims that American rap star Kanye West has announced he is moving to South Africa with his “new wife” have gone viral after a video was published on TikTok purportedly showing him making the announcement. This is false: the clip is a doctored version of his 2018 interview with Jimmy Kimmel and was created using Artificial Intelligence (AI) software.
“Kanye West will be moving to South Africa to start a new life. What new South African name should we give Kanye & where will he stay?” reads a tweet published on February 4, 2023.
The post has received more than 200 retweets and was published by a South African Twitter account that has been the subject of previous fact checks (see here).
Reactions to one of the Facebook posts were mixed, with some commenters appearing to believe the claim, while others labelled it false.
The rumour likely started with a TikTok video that was published two days earlier on February 2, 2023, and reposted to other social media platforms.
In the footage, which has been viewed more than 1.8 million times, West purportedly says: “I am moving to South Africa to start a new life with my new wife.”
The clip ends with two images showing West and his reportedly new partner, Bianca Censori, out and about. According to tabloid news organisation TMZ, West and Censori recently held a private wedding ceremony, although the marriage has not been legalised with a marriage certificate.
In the video, a line of text pops up, urging users to “Download GLEESENT to have fun with celebs”.
The Gleesent App says on its website that you can “create lipsync memes using over 200 GIFS”.
Putting words into his mouth
The misleading with West has been doctored with AI software.
West’s 2018 interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live! was used as the foundation for the altered video.
As seen in comparison pictures, West is wearing the same white shirt, a gold chain, an earpiece and grills (a form of decorative teeth jewellery). His facial expression and body language are also identical.
The only change in the TikTok video occurs with his lips when he appears to say he plans to move to South Africa, a sign that the original section of the video was intentionally altered. This was done using Gleesent.
The app allows you to make lip-sync videos by choosing a meme. “Our AI makes characters speak the text you type with an original voice,” reads the app’s description.
And unlike the false claims circulating, West never spoke about moving to South Africa in the original video. Rather, he answered a question about his appreciation of being celebrated for his creativity and artistry in both music and fashion.
At the time of the interview, West was still married to TV personality Kim Kardashian. The couple filed for divorce in February 2021.
The TikTok account that posted the video has created similar digitally altered videos since December 2022 – mostly featuring edits of Tesla’s chief Elon Musk — and other celebrities.
As reported by AFP in 2023, there has been a significant rush by technology giants to release AI products, heightened by the success of the popular language app ChatGPT.
Another AFP article delved into the blurred lines created by AI, particularly in the art world.