Facebook, YouTube Said to Be Warned Against Misuse of Deepfakes by Indian Government

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 told Reuters.

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’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.

The Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have raised concerns over deepfakes in recent days. 

During a virtual summit of G20 nations on Wednesday, Prime Minister Modi called on global leaders to jointly work towards regulating AI, and raised concerns over the negative impact of deepfakes on society.

Countries across the world are racing to draw up rules to regulate AI. India has been tightening regulations of social media companies, which count the South Asian nation as a top growth market. 

Last year, the government privately criticized the companies for not removing what it described as fake news on their sites, which it said had forced it to order content takedowns.

© Thomson Reuters 2023

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