India asks social media giants to deter deepfakes

Published November 25, 2023
A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed Facebook logo in this illustration taken on February 21, 2023. — Reuters
A keyboard is placed in front of a displayed Facebook logo in this illustration taken on February 21, 2023. — Reuters

BENGALURU: India’s government on Friday warned social media firms including Facebook and YouTube to repeatedly remind users that local laws prohibit them from posting deepfakes and content that spreads obscenity or misinformation, two sources said.

The warning was conveyed by deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar in a closed-door meeting where he said many companies had not updated their usage terms despite 2022 rules that prohibit content “harmful” to children, obscene or that “impersonates another person”.

It comes amid growing concerns over deepfakes — realistic yet fabricated videos created by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms trained on online footage — which a top minister this week said this week India is drawing up rules to address.

Chandrasekhar said the companies must raise awareness of the rules by reminding users every time they log in that they cannot post such content, or by issuing reminders.

He said otherwise he will issue directions forcing them to do so, said the two sources, who declined to be named as the meeting was private.

The minister described it as a “non-negotiable” demand of the Indian government during the meeting, said one of the sources. India’s IT ministry said in a press statement all platforms had agreed to align their content guidelines with government rules.

Facebook and Chandrasekhar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alphabet Inc’s Google, which owns YouTube, said in a statement it was committed to responsible AI development and has robust policies and systems to identify and remove harmful content across its products and platforms.

Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2023

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