Rashmika Mandanna Viral Video: What Is ‘Deepfake’ And Why Is It Causing Concern Amongst Netizens

Since the incident, the concept of ‘deepfake’ has been wandering on social media, leaving netizens both scared and intrigued
Rashmika Mandanna
Rashmika MandannaGetty Images

In a recent viral video circulating on social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter), popular actress Rashmika Mandanna was seemingly depicted entering an elevator in sportswear, sparking intense debate among netizens. However, it was soon revealed that this video was a deepfake, ingeniously crafted using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. The original footage actually featured Instagram influencer Zara Patel, and someone had employed AI to morph the image of the actress into a convincing deepfake.

Since the incident, the concept of ‘deepfake’ has been wandering on social media, leaving netizens both scared and intrigued. Know about this conflicting technology and why is it creating so much buzz among netizens below.

What is deepfake?

Picture this, you have an automated mask that can help you look like anyone in this world. (even things that potentially do not even exist) Sounds interesting? Wait until your image gets morphed onto a criminal. The concept of ‘deepfake’ is no different. Deepfake technology involves digital manipulation of media, predominantly images and videos, to substitute or conceal an individual's identity with that of another person, even if the latter may not exist.

While AI, is presently, in its inception stage, it is important to understand that the technology is expanding its roots rapidly, be it in good or bad water.

Is it legal?

In Indian cyber laws, deepfakes are not explicitly categorized as a distinct criminal offense. Instead, their legality hinges on the specific context and purpose for which they are employed. Deepfake activities may be subject to legal consequences based on the circumstances in which they are utilized.

Producing or disseminating deepfakes may potentially constitute instances of fraud or defamation, both of which are unlawful. Conversely, there are scenarios where it may not be illegal, yet it remains a matter of ethical concern.

How to avoid giving into ‘deepfakes’?

Before diving into the ways to avoid being misconceived by technology, it is crucial to prioritize cyber literacy and exercise vigilance when evaluating the authenticity of social media content before sharing it. Placing trust in accredited sources and critically assessing the viral nature of any content is essential.

1. Be attentive to unusual color tones that deviate from natural hues.

2. Scrutinize anomalies in the play of light and shadow.

3. Examine for excessively smooth backgrounds or elements that do not harmonize with the rest of the image or video.

4. Watch for subtle irregularities when observing human figures, such as awkward postures or facial expressions that appear out of place.

5. Always check out for first-hand sources.

Following the incident involving Mandanna, the government issued a directive earlier this week, urging prominent social media platforms to promptly remove any reported deepfake content within a 36-hour window. Failure to comply with this directive could result in these platforms potentially facing legal actions under laws.

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