Deepfake video in multiple languages is the first of its kind in an Indian election

It’s a ‘positive campaign.’

Hindustan Times/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

The Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is working with The Ideaz Factory to use deepfakes for good, according to VICE. Two videos, one in English and the other in the Hindi dialect Haryanvi, reached about 15 million people on WhatsApp who might not have understood President Manoj Tiwari’s message otherwise. The party is excited to use deepfakes as a way to scale their campaigns, particularly in a country home to several languages and even more nuanced dialects.

Could deepfakes actually help in politics? — Generally, when deepfakes are mentioned in the same breath as politics, the intent behind them is malicious. These videos, however, are aimed at disseminating the same message with similar intonation to the large Haryanvi-speaking population of Delhi.

“The Haryanvi videos let us convincingly approach the target audience even if the candidate didn’t speak the language of the voter.” Neelkant Bakshi, co-manager of social media and IT for BJP Delhi, told VICE.

AltNews, an Indian fact-checking website, was unable to tell the videos were fake. Founder Pratik Sinha found the videos “dangerous” and claimed they were a new breed of doctored images in India. While it’s possible to use deepfakes for benevolent reasons, Sinha argues that “it’s impossible to fact-check or verify something that you don’t recognize is doctored.” This massive blindspot will only grow as the barrier to entry for companies like The Ideaz Factory only gets lower.

If deepfakes like this were appropriately labeled, as Twitter’s policy posits, they could be freely shared, but why would anyone label something as inauthentic if they knew they could get away with it?