Soumya Prakash Pradhan

The upcoming 2024 India general elections, scheduled from 19 April to June 1, 2024, have garnered significant attention due to the significant rise in the number of new voters and growing concerns about AI and deep fake technologies.

These advancements have sparked nationwide debate regarding the potential spread of misinformation during the election period.

Deep fakes, characterised by their photorealistic and audio-realistic quality created or manipulated using artificial intelligence, are a major worry.

In contrast, shallow fakes or cheap fakes, although not AI-generated, pose similar concerns.

These include edited images, selectively altered videos, or mis-captioned content that can mislead viewers.

Before AI advancements, people could easily identify edited media. However, AI tools now produce images and videos that are nearly indistinguishable from reality, amplifying the challenge of detecting fake content.

Shallow fakes are particularly concerning as they can be created swiftly and shared without context, contributing to the spread of misinformation.

Distinguishing between deep fakes and shallow fakes is crucial. Deep fakes are sophisticated manipulations while shallow fakes rely on conventional editing techniques or misrepresentations of existing content.

For instance, a morphed video of US Vice President Kamala Harris circulated as a shallow fake, altering the context of her speech.

With the Lok Sabha elections approaching, social media platforms are witnessing a surge in shallow fakes.

Political parties are utilising these tactics to mock opponents, further fuelling the misinformation landscape.

Examples include morphed images and videos shared to discredit political figures or create false narratives.

The proliferation of shallow fakes poses a significant challenge, with social media becoming a battleground for misleading content.

This trend is alarming, especially considering India's high vulnerability to misinformation, as highlighted by the World Economic Forum's Global Risk Report 2024.

Recognising this threat, Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar has emphasised the need for responsible behaviour and announced the Election Commission of India's upcoming "Myth vs Reality" project.

This initiative aims to debunk fake news circulating on social media platforms, underlining the importance of combating misinformation ahead of the 2024 general election.