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- DeSantis has not announced that he’s running for president in 2024. This is a deepfake video that was first shared as a joke by a pro-Donald Trump social media account.
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."
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!
TikTok post, March 31, 2023
Fandom, Hail Hydra Wiki, accessed April 7, 2023
University of Puget Sound, "Hail Hydra": Marvel's Captain America and White Nationalism in the United States, accessed April 7, 2023
Twitter post, March 30, 2023
PolitiFact, Deepfake video alters Ron DeSantis’ speech and skews his political record, MArch 31, 2023
Twitter post, April 3, 2023
Politico, Trump lashes out at DeSantis, says he regrets his endorsement of him, March 13, 2023
PolitiFact, Did Ron DeSantis change his stance on Ukraine? If so, how much? March 15, 2023
NBC News, Ron DeSantis feels the love in Iowa. That might not be enough. March 11, 2023
NBC News, Trump's online war machine trains its weapons on Ron DeSantis, April 3, 2023
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