International pop star Justin Bieber was so impressed by the guitar stylings of Tom Cruise he saw on TikTok, he praised the Mission: Impossible actor on social media.
However, it turns out Bieber was taken for a ride.
The "Peaches" singer was duped by a fake—albeit, very convincing—digital rendering of Tom Cruise.
What the singer actually saw online was a clip from the TikTok account, @deeptomcruise—a page solely dedicated to a series of synthetic media, or "deepfakes," featuring the iconic Hollywood actor—created by visual and AI effects artist Chris Umé and Cruise voice impersonator Miles Fisher.
A clueless Bieber shared the clip on his Instagram page and wrote:
"@TomCruise I'm impressed with your guitar skills, but you can still punch with those hands, man."
"While you're playing a song not caring about anything, I'm here thinking about the first round knockout."
His one-sided barb with Cruise was part of an ongoing fake feud Bieber started on social media when he first tweeted at the actor roughly two years ago.
Back in June, Bieber tweeted:
"I wanna challenge Tom Cruise to fight in the octagon. Tom if you dont take this fight your scared and you will never live it down."
He later admitted he was joking and said:
"I don't know him. He's tight. The story is I saw an interview with him, and he was just on my mind."
"It was just a random tweet. I do that stuff sometimes."
So when he continued his ruse by reacting to the hyper-realistic version of Tom Cruise, it appeared the joke was on him.
The mischief-maker even emulated Cruise by performing a cover of the song from the fake clip.
Hours after learning he fell for the fake clip, Bieber reportedly deleted his posts and wrote:
"That's not really Tom Cruise? Lol, oh well, still hilarious."
Twitter users were amused by his naivete.
However, others couldn't blame him.
These forms of artificial intelligence-generated videos—or what The Guardian called, "The 21st century's answer to Photoshopping"— have been on the rise along with growing concerns from the military, law enforcement, and intelligence agencies, who fear deepfakes could be used to potentially spread misinformation and commit crimes.
After much hubbub online about the deepfakes of Tom Cruise, Umé came forward to claim credit as the mastermind behind the videos.
In a CBS News interview, the 32-year-old Belgian digital effects artist explained his harmless intentions behind his work featuring the actor.
"We believed as long as we're making clear this is a parody, we're not doing anything to harm his image."
"But after a few videos, we realized like, this is blowing up; we're getting millions and millions and millions of views."
Umé also made it clear his purpose was to entertain people and "raise awareness."
"I want to show where it's all going," he added.