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AI Videos Of Modi Spark Controversy in Indian General Election

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AI Videos Of Modi Spark Controversy in Indian General Election

(CTN News) – An AI video depicts a delighted Narendra Modi dancing on stage to a Bollywood tune while the audience shouts. The Indian prime minister reshared the video on X, writing, “Such creativity during peak poll season is truly a delight.”

Another video, with a similar stage setup, depicts Modi’s competitor, Mamata Banerjee, dancing in a saree-like costume. The background music is excerpts from her speech criticizing those who left her party to join Modi’s. State police have initiated an inquiry, claiming that the footage could “affect law and order.”

Modi’s Lighthearted Response

The various reactions to movies generated with artificial intelligence (AI) techniques highlight how the use and abuse of the technology is rising, causing concern among regulators and security officials before the world’s most populous country holds a massive general election.

AI films with near-perfect shadows and hand movements are simple to create and may sometimes mislead even the most digitally aware individuals. However, risks are higher in a country where many of the 1.4 billion people are technologically challenged and where falsified content may readily incite sectarian tensions, particularly during election season.

A January World Economic Forum poll found that disinformation poses a greater risk to India than infectious diseases or illegal economic activity during the next two years.

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Supporters of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi wear masks of his face, as they attend an election campaign rally in Meerut, India, March 31, 2024. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

“India is already at a high risk of misinformation — with AI, it can spread 100 times faster,” said New Delhi-based consultant Sagar Vishnoi, advising certain political parties on using AI in India’s election.

“Elderly folks, who are typically not technologically aware, are increasingly falling for misleading narratives helped by AI films. This could have catastrophic effects, such as inciting enmity toward a community, caste, or religion.

The 2024 national election, which lasts six weeks and ends on June 1, is the first time AI will be used. The initial examples were harmless, with some politicians employing technology to generate movies and sound to personalize their campaigns.

However, big incidents of misuse made headlines in April, including deepfakes of Bollywood actors denouncing Modi and fake videos involving two of Modi’s senior aides, which resulted in the arrest of nine people.

Last week, India’s Election Commission advised political parties against using AI to propagate falsehoods and published seven provisions of information technology and other laws that carry jail sentences of up to three years for offenses such as forgery, propagating rumors, and hostility.

A senior national security officer in New Delhi said officials fear bogus news could spark riots. The cheap availability of AI tools allows for creating such fake news, particularly during elections, which is tough to counter, according to the official.

“We do not have adequate monitoring capacity…” “The ever-changing AI environment is difficult to keep track of,” the official stated.

A top election official stated, “We are unable to fully monitor social media; forget about controlling content.”

They declined to be identified since they could not communicate with the media.

AI and deepfakes are increasingly employed in elections worldwide, including the United States, Pakistan, and Indonesia. The recent distribution of the films in India demonstrates the difficulties encountered by authorities.

For years, an Indian IT ministry panel has existed to order the censoring of anything that it believes threatens public order, either at its discretion or in response to complaints. During the election, poll watchdogs and police departments deployed hundreds of officials to discover and remove questionable information.

Response from Social Media Platforms

While Modi’s reaction to his AI dancing video was lighthearted — “I also enjoyed seeing myself dance” — the Kolkata city police in West Bengal state began investigating X user SoldierSaffron7 for sharing the Banerjee video.

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FILE PHOTO: Supporters of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi react, on the day of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election campaign rally in Ayodhya, India, May 5, 2024. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas/File Photo

Dulal Saha Roy, a cybercrime officer in Kolkata, posted a typed notice on X, warning the user to erase the video or face “severe penal action.”

The user told Reuters via X direct messaging, “I am not deleting that, no matter what happens,” but declined to disclose their phone number or true name for fear of police action. “They can’t trace [me].”

According to Reuters, election officials can only request that content be removed from social media platforms if it does not violate their standards.

Modi and Banerjee’s dancing films, which have received 30 million and 1.1 million views on X, were created using the free website Viggle. The site uses an image and a few simple prompts described in a tutorial to make movies in minutes of the person in the photograph dancing or performing other real-life actions.

Viggle co-founder Hang Chu and Banerjee’s office did not answer Reuters’ questions.

In addition to the two dancing AI videos, a 25-second Viggle movie circulating online shows Banerjee appearing in front of a burning hospital and blowing it up with a remote.

This AI-altered footage from the 2008 film The Dark Knight depicts Batman’s adversary, the Joker, causing chaos. The video post has received 420,000 views.

The West Bengal police believe it violates Indian IT regulations, but X has not taken any action as it “strongly believes in defending and respecting the voice of our users” according to an email notice sent by X to the user, which Reuters examined.

“They can do nothing to me. “I didn’t take that [notice] seriously,” the user told Reuters using X direct chat.

Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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