AI-generated videos stir controversy in Indian election season

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

INDIA, May 16: Recent AI-generated videos featuring Indian political figures have ignited controversy and raised concerns over the misuse of technology during the ongoing national election. In one clip, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is depicted dancing energetically on stage, while in another, his political rival Mamata Banerjee is shown speaking against defections from her party.

The proliferation of such videos highlights the growing challenges faced by regulators and security officials in a country where misinformation can easily incite tensions, particularly during election periods. With India’s population of 1.4 billion, many of whom are not digitally savvy, the risk of manipulated content spreading quickly is a significant concern.

According to a survey by the World Economic Forum, the threat of misinformation in India ranks higher than that of infectious diseases or illicit economic activities in the next two years. The widespread availability of AI tools exacerbates this risk, allowing for the creation of convincing fake videos that can deceive even digitally literate individuals.

Political consultant Sagar Vishnoi warns that AI-generated videos could have serious consequences, fueling hatred and sectarian tensions. As the 2024 national election marks the first deployment of AI in Indian politics, concerns over the potential misuse of the technology have come to the forefront.

In response to several cases of AI video misuse, including deepfakes targeting prominent political figures, India’s Election Commission has issued warnings against spreading misinformation through AI. Legal provisions have been cited, with potential jail terms of up to three years for offenses such as forgery and promoting rumors.

Despite efforts to monitor social media content, authorities admit to facing challenges in controlling the dissemination of fake news, particularly during elections. The ease with which AI tools can be accessed and utilized makes it difficult for authorities to track and counter misinformation effectively.

While some political figures have responded lightheartedly to the AI-generated content, others have taken legal action. The Kolkata city police launched an investigation into a user who shared a video depicting Mamata Banerjee, citing potential violations of Indian IT laws.

As the debate over AI-generated content continues, concerns persist over the spread of misinformation and the ability of authorities to regulate digital platforms effectively. With millions of views garnered by these AI videos, the need for robust measures to address the misuse of technology remains paramount.

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