TikTok and Meta delete fake video of South Korean president

By Kuksung Nam, The Readable
Mar. 11, 2024 9:24PM GMT+9

TikTok and Meta, the parent company of Instagram, removed a manipulated video of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol from their platforms following a request from the country’s internet censorship body. The request was made over concerns that the video could mislead viewers.

The Korea Communications Standards Commission (KCSC) announced on Monday that the fabricated video of the South Korean president had been removed from the popular video-sharing platform TikTok and Meta’s Instagram. Although the KCSC could not specify the exact date of the videos’ removal, they noted that the deletions were identified through an internal search.

On February 23, following a request from the South Korean police to delete the objectionable content, the KCSC convened an emergency meeting. This censorship body arrived at a decision to block access to 22 instances of manipulated content. The creator in question is alleged to have edited various clips of the president from his 2022 presidential campaign, altering the original sentences, albeit without employing deepfake technology. For example, the manipulated videos changed the president’s statement from “For a lifetime, I have been executing laws against those who cause torment to South Korean citizens,” to “I have been executing laws to torment South Korean citizens.”

The KCSC noted that despite being meticulously edited and labeled with the word “fictional” in their titles, the videos were created with the clear intent to mislead viewers. Out of the 22 pieces of content, 21 were titled “A conscious confession speech of President Yoon Suk-yeol,” with one exception that included the phrase “functionally crafted” at the beginning of the title. The censorship body also expressed concern over the potential for social disorder, given the deceptive nature of the content being disseminated on social media platforms.

Of the 22 instances, 18 videos were found on TikTok and 4 on Instagram. The KCSC, in an email statement, mentioned, “Following an additional request from the Seoul Metropolitan Police, we made a decision regarding 2 more deceptive videos on February 29. We will continue to review the contents and plan to make decisions accordingly.”

In conjunction with the KCSC’s efforts, the presidential office has also made strong statements against the misleading content. During a press briefing on February 23, spokesperson Kim Soo-kyung emphasized the importance of eliminating the counterfeit content featuring the president. “With the general election approaching, the office hopes for a societal effort to prevent the spread and creation of fake content,” Kim remarked. Furthermore, South Korean police are actively searching for the individual responsible for uploading the deceptive video on social media platforms.


The cover image of this article was designed by Daeun Lee. This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.

Kuksung Nam is a journalist for The Readable. She has extensively traversed the globe to cover the latest stories on the cyber threat landscape and has been producing in-depth stories on security and privacy by engaging with industry giants, foreign government officials and experts. Before joining The Readable, Kuksung reported on politics for one of South Korea’s top-five local newspapers, The Kyeongin Ilbo. Her journalistic skills and reportage earned her the coveted Journalists Association of Korea award in 2021 for her essay detailing exclusive stories about the misconduct of a former government official. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in French from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a testament to her linguistic capabilities.