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Viggle: A video-playful AI tool capable of creating false narratives

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It often begins with a harmless notion, overlooked until it escalates into significant repercussions that tarnish reputations or wreak havoc from which recovery is challenging. There are countless instances where the image of prominent figures, like the President of Nigeria, has been used to spread false narratives.

From deep fake videos to outrageous claims attributed to President Tinubu, DUBAWA has scrutinised many instances amplified by technology.

The prominence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has created a hotbed of innovation and controversy. While it brings numerous benefits, it also has significant flaws, flooding the information ecosystem with tools that allow malicious actors to expand the reach of false information.

In 2023, DUBAWA explored 12 tools used to misinform and disinform people. Some include ManyCam, Prank Me Not, Fodey, and Emkei Mailer. And more recently, the latest addition to the debate in 2024 is Viggle AI. Launched earlier this year, Viggle AI has taken the internet by storm, promising to revolutionise AI animation with unprecedented ease and accessibility.

The observation starts from a TikTok trend that often features an image of a person alongside a look-alike dancing. What creates suspicion is that the adults shown in these videos don’t usually have the physical attributes typically associated with dancers.

Additionally, the people’s positioning and dancing steps often look odd. See samples here, here, here, and here. People also made several dancing videos of President Tinubu using the app. See here, here, and here.

Using the hashtag ‘AI dance challenge,’ DUBAWA investigated and found multiple videos demonstrating that the clips used for the trend were indeed fabricated. We found that the app behind these creations is called Viggle.

What is Viggle?

Viggle (or viggle.ai) is a creative tool that allows users to generate animated videos and dance clips from their photos and text. It leverages AI technology to animate static images, making it easy for anyone to create engaging content without advanced technical skills.

Some of its features include:

1. Text-to-Video Generation: Users can input text commands, and Viggle AI will transform these into dynamic video content. This feature is particularly useful for creating animated stories or promotional materials.

2. Dance Videos: A popular feature is creating dance videos. Users can take a photo or select one from their gallery and choose a dance track. Viggle AI will animate the photo to dance to the chosen music. It provides a popular library of dance prompts that can be used to generate content quickly. This content can then be shared on social platforms to attract an audience and generate traffic.

3. Template Library: Viggle AI offers a variety of templates to choose from, making it easy to start creating videos quickly. These templates can be customised to fit the user’s needs, allowing for a personalised touch in each creation.

4. Physics-Aware JST-1 Model: The advanced JST-1 model ensures that the characters’ movements are realistic and adhere to the laws of physics, enhancing the overall quality of the animations.

5.  Versatile Accessibility: Designed for both desktop and mobile platforms, Viggle AI ensures that creators can work on their projects anytime, anywhere.

6.  User-Friendly Interface: The app is designed to be user-friendly, with an intuitive interface that guides users through the video creation process step-by-step. Users of the app download and subscribe for additional features and full access. The app is free to download, contributing to the trend of fabricating videos using images of prominent people. For example, see explanatory clips here, here, here, and here.

DUBAWA aimed to confirm the origins of the original dancing videos used to create the altered ones trending on TikTok in Nigeria. By following related hashtags in the original video of the dancer, see the exact video sample of the original dancer versus the doctored one here.

The dancer’s name is Larry, known as @officiallarry07 on TikTok. He is popular for creating similar content to those used by others to doctor videos. This is displayed on his page.

Why you should be concerned

Utilising a tool like Viggle AI can significantly lower the barrier to video creation. It empowers individuals who may not have dance skills or editing experience to produce compelling dance pieces quickly. By combining popular dance moves with personalised characters, users can quickly gain attention on social media, enhance fan interaction, and unlock commercial value.

However, AI tools like Viggle that fabricate videos can also spread misinformation. Fabricated content can easily be mistaken for real, leading to a more corrupted information ecosystem and confusing the public. Such incidents illustrate how sophisticated digital manipulation has made it harder for journalists and fact-checkers to maintain accurate reporting.

These tools have broader implications, as they can be used to create realistic but false narratives that influence public opinion and provoke unrest. They can discredit public figures, spread malicious rumours, and interfere in political processes. Thus, it is crucial to develop robust verification mechanisms and promote digital literacy to recognise and question the authenticity of online content.

Conclusion

As technology advances, an array of beneficial and potentially harmful tools will inevitably emerge. Individuals must exercise caution in what they consume or share on social media. 

The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2024 Kwame KariKari Fellowship, in partnership with Prime Progress, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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