AI-Based Attacks , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Geo Focus: Asia

India Orders Removal of Deepfakes Within 36 Hours

Deepfake of Movie Star Prompts Government to Clamp Down on Social Media Firms
India Orders Removal of Deepfakes Within 36 Hours
Swapping faces with video editing software (Image: Shutterstock)

The Indian government directed social media companies to clamp down on deepfakes and misinformation shortly after a deepfake video of a leading actress sparked public criticism.

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The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on Tuesday directed social media intermediaries to identify disinformation and deepfakes on their platforms and remove them within 36 hours upon receiving a report from a user or a government authority.

"Given the significant challenges posed by misinformation and deepfakes, they issued a second advisory within the last six months, calling upon online platforms to take decisive actions against the spread of deepfakes," said Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the union minister of state for Electronics and IT.

Under Indian law, creating and spreading deepfakes could result in a prison term of up to three years and a fine of $1,200.

The government advisory followed public uproar over a deepfake video clip of popular film actress Rashmika Mandanna circulating on popular social media channels including Facebook, X and WhatsApp.

"I feel really hurt to share this and have to talk about the deepfake video of me being spread online," Mandanna wrote on X.

Chandrasekhar said social media intermediaries that fail to take action in response to user reports on misinformation or deepfakes could lose their legal protections under India's Information Technology Act. The law ensures that social media intermediaries cannot be held liable for any third-party information, data or communication link made available or hosted by users.

The government of India introduced new rules in the Information Technology Act in 2021 to require social media firms to ensure that their platforms do not host misinformation, false or objectionable content. In the past, the intermediaries were only required to inform users about the nature of content they could post or share on their channels.

The 2023 State of Deepfakes report by U.S.-based Home Security Heroes states that the total number of deepfake videos online in 2023 is 550% higher than in 2019, and up to 99% of those videos are pornographic in nature and target women. The study also found that 94% of women who are victims of deepfake content work in the entertainment industry.

Home Security Heroes said deepfake videos are widely viewed across the top 10 dedicated websites, amassing over 303 million views. These platforms collectively have attracted around 34 million monthly visitors so far in 2023. South Korea takes the lead globally, contributing 53% of the uploaded deepfake videos, followed by the United States at 20%. India is in sixth place on the list, holding a 2% share of the deepfake videos market.

"Public figures such as celebrities, politicians and influencers often face a higher risk of being targeted due to their visibility and the potential impact of false or scandalous content on their careers and public standing," the firm said.

About the Author

Jayant Chakravarti

Jayant Chakravarti

Senior Editor, APAC

Chakravarti covers cybersecurity developments in the Asia-Pacific region. He has been writing about technology since 2014, including for Ziff Davis.

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