Explainer: Is `Deep Fake’ next level of `Fake News’?

Hyderabad: Weeks after BJP allegedly used ‘Deep Fake’ videos of MP Manoj Tiwari for Delhi elections, controversy has erupted over the new technology, which is being considered as next level of “fake news”.

But what exactly is Deep Fake? It refers to those manipulated videos or audio recordings which can easily be passed off as genuine. The technology first hogged the limelight in 2017. Since then it has been used by people to create fake porn videos using celebrity images, videos and sound bites.

How is it done?

Deep Fake manipulations include altering the lip movements in the original video to match it with the completely new audio recording, which has been fed into the source. Other manipulations can be done by swapping the face of the original video with a completely new face, using AI algorithm.

Manipulation of Manoj Tiwari’s videos could be one of the first instances where Deep Fake technology has been used for political campaigns in India. While at first glance, the video might seem real, a report in Vice revealed that the two monologues were fake.

The original video of Manoj Tiwari was in Hindi, but it was manipulated into Haryanvi and English, using Deep Fake technology’s Artificial Intelligence algorithm. The doctored video was meant to sway the Haryanvi-speaking migrant worker population in Delhi and prevent them from voting for Arvind Kejriwal. Reportedly, these Deep Fakes were distributed across more than 5,000 WhatsApp groups in the Delhi and NCR region, reaching approximately 15 million people.

Why Deep Fakes point towards an alarming trend?

Deep fakes are problematic because no software has been designed to detect Deep Fake videos, according to experts. The first step is to recognize that a video has been doctored, which can easily bypass scrutiny if the manipulation has been carried out subtly.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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