‘Policymakers must clearly define what constitutes harmful deepfake content’

In the context of elections, deepfake could be used to spread false information, manipulate public opinion, and undermine the integrity of the electoral process

Supriya Rai
New Update

The potential implications of deepfake technology on general elections 2024 are significant and concerning. Deepfakes, which are highly realistic synthetic media created using artificial intelligence (AI), have the capacity to manipulate videos, audio recordings, and images to depict individuals saying or doing things they never actually did. In the context of elections, this technology could be used to spread false information, manipulate public opinion, and undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Anand Trivedi, Director at CyberProof - a UST company, sheds more light on how to tackle this issue.


DQ: How do you foresee deepfake technology influencing the political landscape leading up to the 2024 elections in India?

Anand Trivedi: Deepfake technology, with its ability to create hyper-realistic fake audio and video, can pose a significant threat to the political landscape in India, especially as the 2024 elections approach. The technology could be misused to fabricate speeches, create misleading endorsements, or even simulate controversies, all of which could sway public opinion and disrupt the electoral process.  

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?


Anand Trivedi: Some primary challenges include the rapid detection and correction of deepfake content, which can spread swiftly across social media platforms. Political parties will need to collaborate closely with tech companies to enhance their capabilities in identifying and flagging deepfakes. They must also work on educating their supporters and the general public on the potential for such misinformation, preparing them to consume the content they consume more critically.

DQ: 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?

Anand Trivedi: To mitigate the risks that deepfakes can bring, I recommend implementing robust digital literacy programs that educate voters on recognizing manipulated content. Political parties and election commissions should also establish rapid response teams to address misinformation swiftly and transparently whenever it arises. Additionally, media and technology companies have a responsibility in developing technologies that can detect deepfakes at scale. AI technologies can help drive the scaling of such detection solutions.   


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?

Anand Trivedi: Legislative measures should mandate transparency in the creation and distribution of AI-generated content, with stringent penalties for those who knowingly disseminate deepfake content to mislead or harm others. Regulations could also require social media platforms to implement better monitoring and reporting systems, ensuring they can quickly identify and remove malicious deepfake content.

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


Anand Trivedi: Policymakers must clearly define what constitutes harmful deepfake content without encroaching on freedom of expression. Laws should target only those deepfakes created with intent to harm or deceive the public. Establishing guidelines that allow for artistic and satirical uses of deepfake technology can help maintain the balance between creativity and misinformation, especially in today’s age in which so much is communicated over social media. 

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?

Anand Trivedi: In the long term, deepfake technology could undermine trust in media and governmental institutions, making it difficult for the public to discern truth from fiction. Of course, this can have an impact on the democratic process. To build societal resilience, continuous public education on the use of deepfakes and other media tools is vital. Additionally, fostering a culture of critical thinking among the public can serve as a defense against the manipulative use of deepfakes. This is a long-term solution to address a growing problem that can impact all areas of society. Collaborative efforts between government, civil society, and the tech industry are essential to develop more sophisticated detection technologies and to reinforce the democratic process against such disruptions.