• Thursday, May 30, 2024

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Bollywood deepfakes fuel AI election meddling fears in India

The deepfakes, which have gained significant traction on social media platforms, showcase Khan and Singh expressing dissatisfaction with Modi’s governance

Both actors have said the videos are fake. (Photo credit: Reuters)

By: Vivek Mishra

Fake videos featuring two prominent Bollywood actors have surfaced, stirring up controversy amid India’s ongoing general election. These videos depict Aamir Khan and Ranveer Singh purportedly criticising prime minister Narendra Modi and advocating for support towards the opposition Congress party.

The videos, which have gained significant traction on social media platforms, showcase Khan and Singh expressing dissatisfaction with Modi’s governance, citing unfulfilled promises and economic challenges. Both clips conclude with a clear endorsement of the Congress party, accompanied by its election symbol and slogan: “Vote for Justice, Vote for Congress.”

The widespread dissemination of these AI-generated videos has raised red flags regarding the potential impact of technological manipulation on India’s electoral process. As the world’s largest democracy, India’s elections are closely watched, and the integration of digital campaigning alongside traditional methods has added a new dimension to the political landscape.

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

Both actors have said the videos are fake. Facebook, X and at least eight fact-checking websites have said they are altered or manipulated, which the Reuters digital verification unit has also confirmed.

Khan was “alarmed” by the viral “fake” 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, friends”.

Modi’s office, and the IT head of his Bharatiya Janata Party, did not respond to requests for comment.

A Congress spokesperson, Sujata Paul, shared actor Singh’s video with her 16,000 followers on X on April 17 and by Saturday afternoon, her post had been reshared 2,900 times, liked 8,700 times and received 438,000 views.

Paul told Reuters by telephone she was aware the video was marked “manipulated media” by X, but she did not want to delete it as, while posting, she thought the person was a look-alike of Singh and “it has creativity for sure”.

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

The emergence of these deepfake videos is not an isolated incident but rather part of a broader trend of utilising AI in campaign strategies. Beyond the realm of fake videos, AI has been employed in various ways, including the creation of AI-generated endorsements from deceased politicians and the deployment of AI-generated news anchors to convey political messages.

(Reuters)

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