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‘Act now or else’…. Minister’s warning to social media platforms after Rashmika Mandanna deepfake

Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Monday called out social media platforms for their inability to handle content containing deepfakes and misinformation after the latest deepfake video of actor Rashmika Mandanna’s face went viral.

The minister also reminded social media platforms to adhere to their legal obligations under the IT rules notified in April 2023.

Chandrasekhar reminded platforms that it is their legal obligation to “ensure no misinformation is posted by any user” and also that they must “ensure that when reported by any user or government, misinformation is removed in 36 hours.”

“If any platform fails to comply with these mandates, “rule 7 will apply, and platforms can be taken to court by an aggrieved person under provisions of IPC,” the minister said.

The comments of the minister came after a fake viral video featured Rashmika Mandanna in which the actress’ face was superimposed onto that of Zara Patel, a woman of British-Indian origin with over 400,000 followers on Instagram.

“Deepfakes are the latest and even more dangerous and damaging form of misinformation and need to be dealt with by platforms,” Chandrasekhar said.

What are deepfake videos?

Deepfakes are photos, audio, or videos wherein an element is modified and morphed using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer software. They are created by machine learning models, which use neural networks to manipulate images and videos.

These manipulated videos alter individuals’ appearances to resemble others, thereby leading to the spread of misinformation or reputational harm. Coupled with easy access to the internet and social media platforms, these deepfakes spread rapidly online.

With technology becoming increasingly advanced, identifying deepfakes is becoming a more significant challenge.

Recently, there have been instances of videos featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Instagram Reels, edited to feature alongside his Italian counter, Giorgia Meloni. These were shared as memes for entertainment. Such videos go against the new IT rules introduced in 2023, prohibiting their legal posting on any platform in India.

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