BJP used deepfakes in Delhi campaign: Report

Updated: Feb 19, 2020, 09:18 IST | Agencies | New Delhi

Vice reported that the party bombarded at least 1.5 crore voters with doctored videos of Manoj Tiwari speaking in Haryanvi and English

Manoj Tiwari. File pic
Manoj Tiwari. File pic

Bharatiya Janata Party employed Artificial Intelligence and deepfakes during the recent Delhi election campaign, American digital publication Vice reported on Tuesday. Deepfakes, derived from deep learning and fake, are synthetic, doctored media like videos, in which a person from an existing image or video is replaced with someone else's likeness or made to mimic someone else's actions.

The report said that on February 7, just one day before Delhi voted, two videos of the BJP's chief ministerial candidate Manoj Tiwari criticising the Arvind Kejriwal government went viral on WhatsApp. It said one video had Tiwari speaking in English and the other was him speaking in Haryanvi. "[Kejriwal] cheated us on the basis of promises. But now Delhi has a chance to change it all. Press the lotus button on February 8 to form the Modi-led government," he was seen telling in the video.

Tiwari, a well-known Bhojpuri movie star and singer, doesn't speak any Haryanvi and is not so fluent in English. The report said the Delhi BJP IT Cell partnered with political communications firm The Ideaz Factory to create "positive campaigns" using deepfakes to reach different linguistic voter bases, marking the debut of deepfakes in election campaigns in India.

"Deepfake technology has helped us scale campaign efforts like never before," the report quoted Neelkant Bakshi, co-incharge of social media and IT for BJP Delhi, as saying. "The Haryanvi videos let us convincingly approach the target audience even if the candidate didn't speak the language of the voter." These deepfakes, the report added, were distributed across 5,800 WhatsApp groups in Delhi and the NCR region, reaching approximately 15 million people.

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