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Deepfakes of Bollywood stars raise concerns about AI interference in India's elections, ET BrandEquity

Deepfakes of Bollywood stars raise concerns about AI interference in India's elections, ET BrandEquity


In fake videos that have gone viral online, two of India's best-known Bollywood actors criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ask people to vote for the opposition Congress party in the country's ongoing general elections.

In a 30-second video featuring Aamir Khan and another 41-second clip of Ranveer Singh, the two Bollywood actors reportedly claim that Modi has failed to deliver on his campaign promises and failed to address critical economic issues in the country. during his two terms as Prime Minister.

Both AI-generated videos end with the Congressional election symbol and slogan: “Vote for Justice, Vote for Congress.”

The two videos have been viewed on social media more than half a million times since last week, according to a Reuters study.

Their spread underscores the potential role that such AI-generated content can play in India's mammoth elections that began Friday and continue through June. AI and AI-generated fakes, or deepfakes, are increasingly used in elections elsewhere in the world, including the United States, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Campaigning in India has long focused on door-to-door canvassing and public rallies, but extensive use of WhatsApp and Facebook as campaign tools began in 2019. This year's general elections – in which Modi is expected to get a rare third term – are the first in which AI is used.

A Congress spokesperson, Sujata Paul, shared actor Singh's video with her 16,000 followers on 438,000 views.

Paul told Reuters by phone that she knew the video was marked “manipulated media” by of creativity.” .

The post was no longer visible on X on Sunday, hours after Reuters sent a request for comment to the head of Congress' social media unit, who did not respond.

Both actors said the videos were fake. Facebook, X and at least eight fact-checking sites said they had been altered or manipulated, which Reuters' digital verification unit also confirmed.

Reuters could not determine who created the videos. Khan was “alarmed” by the “fake” viral video and Singh's team was looking into the matter, according to a spokesperson for both actors. Singh wrote on X on Friday: “Beware of deepfakes, my friends.”

Modi's office and his Bharatiya Janata Party's IT chief did not respond to requests for comment.

Nearly 900 million people in India have access to the Internet and a survey by research organization Esya Center and business school Indian Institute of Management showed that the average Indian spends more than three hours a day on Internet. social networks. The country has almost a billion voters.

Some versions of the videos were blocked on social networks but at least 14 were still visible on X on Saturday. Facebook removed two videos Reuters reported to the company, but another was still visible.

Facebook said in a statement that it had “removed the videos” for violating its policies. X did not respond to Reuters queries.

The videos triggered a police investigation, with Khan registering a complaint in Mumbai against anonymous people on April 17 for alleged impersonation and cheating for creating the fake video.

Mumbai Police did not respond to our request for comment, but two officers working on Khan's case, who declined to be named, said they had written to Facebook and X to remove the video and the companies said that it was done.

Officers said they were up until 2 a.m. Friday, refreshing pages to check whether Khan's online videos had been removed. Asked about the progress of the case, one of them replied: “Such technical investigations take time.”

In this year's elections, politicians are using AI in other ways.

In south India, Congress leader Vijay Vasanth's spokesperson said his team created a 2-minute audio-video clip using AI that was shared on social media platforms and shows its political father, now deceased but no longer popular, H. Vasanthakumar, seeking votes for him. .

The late politician is seen saying, “Even though my body has left you all, my soul is still here.”

In videos released on YouTube by the Marxist Communist Party of India (CPM), Samata, an AI-generated anchor dressed in a traditional sari and speaking in a style that mimics traditional news channels, criticizes the ruling party in the state of West Bengal.

In a clip, the presenter claims that the party does not care about the environment as many water bodies have disappeared due to illegal construction.

A spokesperson for the ruling party denied the allegation and said the state government had ensured that no such construction took place. The CPM did not respond to requests for comment.

In the video, viewed 12,000 times, presenter Samata says: “These are questions that we, the citizens of this city, need to think about.”

  • Published on April 22, 2024 at 09:00 IST

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