India Warns Social Media Giants Against Deepfakes and Misinformation

India’s government issued a stern warning to social media giants, including Facebook and YouTube, cautioning them to consistently remind users of local laws prohibiting the posting of deepfakes and content spreading obscenity or misinformation, according to sources briefed on the matter.

Deputy IT minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar conveyed the warning in a closed-door meeting, highlighting that many companies had not updated their usage terms in compliance with the 2022 rules. These rules explicitly prohibit content deemed “harmful” to children, obscene material, or content that “impersonates another person.”

The concerns raised come in the midst of the increasing prevalence of deepfakes—realistic yet fabricated videos generated by artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms trained on online footage. A top minister in India recently announced that the country is in the process of formulating rules to address the challenges posed by deepfake technology.

Chandrasekhar emphasized that social media companies must actively raise awareness of these rules, either by reminding users upon login or through periodic notifications. Failure to do so may lead to the issuance of directives mandating compliance, he warned during the private meeting, describing it as a “non-negotiable” demand from the Indian government.

In response, India’s IT ministry stated in a press release that all platforms have agreed to align their content guidelines with government regulations. Facebook and Chandrasekhar did not immediately respond to requests for comment, while Google, the parent company of YouTube, expressed its commitment to responsible AI development and highlighted existing robust policies to identify and remove harmful content.

The Indian government, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has recently voiced concerns about the impact of deepfakes. During a virtual G20 summit, Prime Minister Modi urged global leaders to collaborate on regulating AI and expressed apprehensions about the negative societal repercussions of deepfake technology.

As nations worldwide race to establish AI regulations, India has been intensifying its oversight of social media companies, considering the country a crucial growth market. In the past year, the government criticized these companies privately for allegedly failing to remove what it deemed fake news on their platforms, leading to content takedown orders.