Fact Check: TikTok posts – Ron DeSantis did not announce his presidential candidacy; this video is a deepfake
After former President Donald Trump was indicted on criminal charges, a parody video swept the internet, showing a deepfake version of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announcing his plan to run for president. But some weren’t in on the joke.
“Today, we’re seeing the success of our uniparty “Never Trump” campaign. Yes, we’re 30 points behind in polling with zero credibility, but now, Trump’s been indicted,” DeSantis appears to say in the video shared March 31 on TikTok. “Now, the people will have no choice but to accept me as their assigned candidate and finally we can sweep the GOP establishment back into power. Hail Hydra!” In the 20-second video, DeSantis appears to stand behind a podium that has a sign reading, “Stealing Your Future.”
“Hail Hydra” is a reference to a Marvel Comics villainous organization that has “historically been used as an allegory for the Nazi Party,” according to researchers.
The video also was shared March 30 by a pro-Trump Twitter account that posted it to other platforms, too, including Telegram. The version of the video on Twitter included a graphic at the end that also appeared in a different deepfake DeSantis video that we rated Pants on Fire. The TikTok version cuts off before the graphic is shown. Several days after posting the video, the Twitter user reshared it and called it a meme.
But many people did not recognize that it was a parody when the video was shared on TikTok.
“Did he say Hail Hydra???” one user commented, adding emojis that show surprise. Another wrote, “Really did he just say that. Oh hell no.”
Telltale clues that the video is a deepfake include mouth movements that look digitally edited and audio that does not sync with DeSantis’ lip movement.
It has long been rumored that DeSantis will run for president in 2024, and Trump has made him a target in public comments and social media posts. Though DeSantis has not officially announced a bid, he has given media interviews and made certain appearances, including in battleground state Iowa, which political observers believe show his intent to run.
NBC News noted that this deepfake and others like it are “emblematic of the way in which a small army of Trump-aligned social media influencers has honed its tools in the early phase of the 2024 presidential campaign.” The news organization reported that “the goal is to portray DeSantis as insufficiently supportive of the former president at a time when most Republicans are rallying to his side.”
We rate the claim that a video shows DeSantis saying, “Now Trump’s been indicted, now the people will have no choice but to accept me as their assigned candidate,” Pants on Fire!