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Countering deepfakes, the most serious AI threat


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Deepfakes

Mains level : Paper 3- Threats of the deepfakes

Deepfakes poses threaten the society at various level due to their disruptive potential. The article explains the threat and suggest the measures to deal with the threat. 

Understanding deepfakes

  • Deepfakes are the digital media (video, audio, and images) manipulated using Artificial Intelligence.
  • This synthetic media content is referred to as deepfakes.
  •  They make it possible to fabricate media — swap faces, lip-syncing, and puppeteer.
  • Access to commodity cloud computing, algorithms, and abundant data has created a perfect storm to democratise media creation and manipulation.
  • Synthetic media can create possibilities and opportunities for all people.
  •  But as with any new innovative technology, it can be weaponised to inflict harm.

Threat posed by deepfakes

  • Deepfakes, hyper-realistic digital falsification, can inflict damage to individuals, institutions, businesses and democracy.
  • Nation-state actors with geopolitical aspirations, ideological believers, violent extremists, and economically motivated enterprises can manipulate media narratives using deepfakes, with easy and unprecedented reach and scale.
  • Pornographic deepfakes can threaten, intimidate, and inflict psychological harm and reduce women to sexual objects.
  • Deepfakes can be deployed to extract money, confidential information, or exact favours from individuals.
  • Deepfakes can cause short- and long-term social harm and accelerate the already declining trust in news media.
  • Such an erosion can contribute to a culture of factual relativism, fraying the increasingly strained civil society fabric.

Undermining democracy

  • A deepfake can also aid in altering the democratic discourse and undermine trust in institutions and impair diplomacy.
  • False information about institutions, public policy, and politicians powered by a deepfake can be exploited to spin the story and manipulate belief.
  • A deepfake of a political candidate can sabotage their image and reputation.
  • Voters can be confused and elections can be disrupted.
  • A high-quality deepfake can inject compelling false information that can cast in doubt the voting process and election results.
  • Deepfakes contribute to factual relativism and enable authoritarian leaders to thrive.
  • Another concern is a liar’s dividend; an undesirable truth is dismissed as deepfake or fake news.

Solution to the problem

  • Media literacy for consumers and journalists is the most effective tool to combat disinformation and deepfakes.
  • Improving media literacy is a precursor to addressing the challenges presented by deepfakes.
  • Meaningful regulations with a collaborative discussion with the technology industry, civil society, and policymakers can facilitate disincentivising the creation and distribution of malicious deepfakes.
  • We also need easy-to-use and accessible technology solutions to detect deepfakes, authenticate media, and amplify authoritative sources.


Deepfakes can create possibilities for all people. However, as access to synthetic media technology increases, so does the risk of exploitation. To counter the menace of deepfakes, we all must take the responsibility to be a critical consumer of media on the Internet, think and pause before we share on social media, and be part of the solution to this infodemic.

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