Navigating the Deepfake Dilemma: Safeguarding Electoral Integrity in the Age of Misinformation

With General Elections 2024 right around the corner, political parties and candidates face challenges in combating the spread of deepfake content during election campaigns

Supriya Rai
New Update


General elections 2024 are all set to begin, and amidst all other concerns, usage of deepfake technology to spread misinformation and disinformation emerges as a significant threat. Deepfake technology has the ability to manipulate and influence voters, and also allow interference of foreign actors. To address these challenges, regulatory frameworks, technological solutions, and public awareness efforts are needed. Implementing measures such as transparency requirements for political advertising, verification standards for media content, and legal consequences for deepfake misuse can help mitigate the risks associated with deepfake technology in elections. Kumar Ritesh, founder and CEO, CYFIRMA recently spoke to Dataquest along the same lines.


DQ: In recent years, deepfake technology has garnered attention for its potential to manipulate audio and video content, often with malicious intent. How do you foresee deepfake technology influencing the political landscape leading up to the 2024 elections in India?

Kumar Ritesh: Deepfake presents a real threat as being used to spread misinformation and disinformation at extraordinary scales. Its uses potentially range from creating fake interviews, speeches, content or any other forms of digital media content that could feature a line of thought or expression supporting a political mindset/party/public-figure with an intent of distorting the trust and tampering with the society fabric impacting the political outcomes and landscape.

No society is rid with its inherent issues, imagine using deepfake technology to generate and propagate false or misleading content which then becomes an ammunition to exacerbate existing issues. Such curated content with an intended bias could be used to fuel the public sentiments amplifying its impact and making it challenging to differentiate between genuine and fabricated media. And the common public on the ground will be ill-prepared to see through the malicious intent which could fragment the outcome of the world’s biggest democratic festival.


DQ: What are the specific challenges that political parties in India might face in combating the spread of misinformation through deepfake videos and audios during the upcoming elections?

Kumar Ritesh: India has a vast and diverse population – with varying maturity of understanding and consuming digital content and technology. Curated digital content – primarily news, audio, video and photographs could potentially reach millions across different social/linguistic/cultural groups of society, which will be difficult for any political party to address and counter it.

This becomes even more difficult given the wide use of social media platforms across India with seeding of curated information spreading through these channels within a short span of time. This could easily cause irreparable damage to any political party’s reputation and electoral prospects.


Many current Indian political movements have a strong appeal and focus towards specific strata of India’s multicultural and multi-religious society Political parties need to navigate these sensitivities carefully while countering false narratives and propaganda.

All in all, trust in political parties could easily take a hit and given that confidence in political institutions and leaders in India is not uniformly high, political parties will find it difficult to regain the confidence of voters who have been exposed to deepfake content casting doubt on their integrity or credibility.

DQ: Deepfake technology has the potential to blur the lines between truth and fiction, raising concerns about the integrity of electoral processes. What measures do you believe should be implemented to mitigate the risks associated with deepfakes and ensure the authenticity of political discourse during the campaign period?


Kumar Ritesh: Here are few steps that may mitigate some of the risk: 

Immediate and Continuous

With the aim to educate voters on how to identify & verify authentic information, running a series of public awareness campaigns is one of the simplest and a must step. 


Working with the social media platform companies and digital service providers to curb unverified or misleading content.

Act immediately the moment a perpetrator of deepfake technology powered manipulation is identified within the spectrum of cyber laws of the land.

Collaboration between governments, political parties, technological corporations, civil society organizations, and academic institutions is necessary to devise a concerted response to the threat posed by deepfakes.


Fostering collaboration between governments, political parties, technology companies, civil society organizations, and academic institutions to develop a coordinated response to the threat posed by deepfakes.

Long Term

Integrate media literacy programs into various education curriculums and initiatives so that the citizens and society are provided with skills and understanding necessary to navigate the digital landscape – especially how to distinguish between genuine and manipulated content. E.g. whatever is seen or heard on the WhatsApp university should not be believed in.


DQ: In your opinion, what regulatory frameworks or legislative measures could be put in place to address the challenges posed by deepfake technology in the context of electoral campaigns? 

Kumar Ritesh: We would strongly recommend:

-Introduction of laws and legislations that criminalize the creation and dissemination of deepfake content, especially of its intent is to manipulate electoral process and voters perception. This should include strict penalties like dines, imprisonment, banning of the outfit found guilty of producing or distributing deepfakes.

-Requiring political candidates/parties/affiliates/entities to disclose any use of deepfake technology in campaign materials or communications.

-Setting up frameworks, standards and procedures for verifying the authenticity of digital media content, which should definitely have a focus towards deepfake detection and authentication techniques.

-Working with the ISP, social media platform companies and other digital media companies towards real-time monitoring and reporting of suspicious or fraudulent content circulating during electoral campaigns. This should also include holding such platforms accountable for the spread of deepfake content on their networks and through their platform.

DQ: How can policymakers strike a balance between protecting freedom of expression and preventing the spread of harmful deepfake content?

Kumar Ritesh: This needs to start with policymakers developing a clear definition of what is defined and categorized as harmful deepfake content so as to distinguish it from legitimate ones. And important part of this is adoption of a risk-rating-based approach as an input to streamline deepfake content, such that measures are proportional to the potential harm posed by specific types of manipulation.

There also needs to be a framework where creators and distributors of digital content should adhere to transparency regarding the use of manipulation techniques and the authenticity of the content. Policymakers should also encourage and support fact-checking organizations, media literacy programs, and independent verification efforts so as to empower and create awareness in the society, which may also feed into any action taken against perpetrators according to the cyber laws of the land.

DQ: Beyond the immediate concerns surrounding the 2024 elections, what long-term implications do you anticipate deepfake technology will have on the democratic process in India? How can society as a whole build resilience against the potential destabilizing effects of deepfake manipulation on public trust in institutions?

Kumar Ritesh: It is a scary and an evolving threat and risk landscape that will most likely have a telling effect on the Indian society and the trusted Indian democratic process. As mentioned above, long term implications include:- eroding of trust in political institutions and electoral processes, intensification of social and political divisions, and influence voter behavior – in many cases permanently. Building resilience should include looking at setup from ground-up which should include – education strategies and efforts to empower individuals, ensure constant efforts towards increasing public awareness, enhancing digital literacy skills across society, fostering transparency and accountability from public and private institutions/entities, and finally – comprehensive collaboration among government agencies, technology companies, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and international partners.