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Deepfakes of Bollywood stars raise concerns about AI interference in Indian elections

Deepfakes of Bollywood stars raise concerns about AI interference in Indian elections

In fake videos that have gone viral online, two of India's most popular Bollywood actors can be seen criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urging people to vote for the opposition Congress party in the ongoing general elections.

In a 30-second video clip featuring Aamir Khan and another 41-second clip featuring Ranveer Singh, the two Bollywood actors reportedly say Modi reneged on his election promises and failed to address critical economic issues during his two terms as Prime Minister.

Both AI-generated videos end with a congressional campaign symbol and the slogan: “Vote for justice, vote for Congress.”

A Reuters analysis showed that the two videos had been viewed more than half a million times on social media since last week.

Its proliferation highlights the potential role such AI-generated content could play in India's massive election, which began on Friday and continues through June. Artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence-generated fake products, known as deepfakes, are increasingly being used in elections in other parts of the world, including the United States, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Election campaigns in India have long focused on home visits and public rallies, but since 2019, WhatsApp and Facebook have been widely used as campaign tools. This year's general election – in which Modi is expected to win a rare third term – is the first to use artificial intelligence.

Congress spokesperson Sujata Paul shared actor Singh's video with her 16,000 followers on X on April 17. As of Saturday afternoon, her post had been shared 2,900 times, liked 8,700 times and viewed 438,000 times.

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Ball told Reuters by phone that she knew that.

The post was no longer visible on the X website on Sunday, hours after Reuters sent an inquiry to the head of the Congressional Social Media Cell, who did not respond.

Both actors said the videos were fake. Facebook,

Reuters was unable to determine who created the videos. Khan was “disturbed” by the “fake” video that had gone viral and Singh's team was investigating the matter, according to a spokesperson for the actors. “Beware of deepfakes friends,” Singh wrote on Channel X on Friday.

Modi's office and the BJP's IT chief did not respond to requests for comment.

Police investigations

Nearly 900 million people in India have access to the internet, and a survey by research organization Esya Center and the Indian Institute of Business Schools in India found that the average Indian spends more than three hours a day on social media. The number of voters in the country is approximately one billion.

Some versions of the videos were blocked on social media, but at least 14 of them could still be viewed on X on Saturday. Facebook deleted two videos that Reuters reported to the company, but another is still visible.

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

The videos sparked a police investigation. Khan registered a case against unnamed people in Mumbai on April 17 on charges of impersonation and cheating in making the fake video.

Mumbai Police did not respond to a request for comment, but two officers working on Khan's case, who did not want to be identified, said they had written to Facebook, and that had happened.

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Officials said they stayed awake until 2 am on Friday to check whether Khan's online videos had been removed. When asked about progress in this case, one of them said: “Such technical investigations take time.”

AI video of dead father

In this year's election, politicians are using AI in a different way.

In southern India, Congress leader Vijay Vasanth's spokesman said his team used artificial intelligence to create a two-minute audio and video clip shared on social media platforms, featuring his now-deceased but most popular politician's father, H.E. Vasanthakumar, who is fighting for votes for him.

The late politician appears saying: “Although my body has left you all, my soul is still there.”

In videos posted on YouTube by the Communist Party of India-Marxists, Samata, an AI-generated anchor who wears a traditional sari and speaks in a style reminiscent of regular news channels, criticizes the ruling party in West Bengal.

In his clip, the broadcaster claimed that the party does not care about the environment because many water bodies have disappeared due to illegal construction.

A ruling party spokesman denied the allegation and said the state government had ensured that such construction projects would not be undertaken. The CPM did not respond to requests for comment.

In the video, which has been viewed 12,000 times so far, presenter Samata explains: “These are questions that we, the citizens of this city, need to think about.”