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What is Deepfake Technology?

Dec 22, 2022

What is Deepfake Technology

Today’s edition of our Current Affairs will comprise a discussion on What is Deepfake Technology?. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

Prelims: General Science

Deep synthesis, Deepfakes, Cybercrimes, machine-learning algorithms, Deepfake technology, Deep fakes, Deepfake meaning, Deepfake AI.

Mains: GS Paper III-  General awareness in the fields of IT

About Deepfakes, China’s new policy to curb deepfakes, Other Countries' initiatives to combat deepfakes.


The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s cyberspace watchdog, is rolling out new regulations, to curb disinformation and to restrict the use of deep synthesis technology that also includes the most notorious applications named deepfakes.

Probable Question

What is deep synthesis technology and how is it being used to spread disinformation? (150 words, 10 marks)


Deep synthesis is defined as the use of technologies, including deep learning and augmented reality, to generate text, images, audio, and video to create virtual scenes. Deepfakes are among such technologies.

About Deepfake Technology

  • Origin: The term deepfake originated in 2017 when an anonymous Reddit user called himself “Deepfakes.” This user manipulated Google’s open-source, deep-learning technology to create and post pornographic videos, with a technique known as face-swapping. 
  • Deepfake Meaning: Deepfakes are a compilation of artificial images and audio put together with machine-learning algorithms.
  • Usage of Deepfakes Technology: It is used to spread misinformation and replace a real person’s appearance, voice, or both with similar artificial likenesses or voices. It is now being used for nefarious purposes like scams and hoaxes, celebrity pornography, election manipulation, social engineering, automated disinformation attacks, identity theft, and financial fraud. Moreover, the technology has been used to impersonate notable personalities like former U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Hollywood celebrity Tom Cruise, among others.
  • Cons of Deepfake Technology: Deepfakes can create people who do not exist and it can fake real people saying and doing things they did not say or do. It is also getting harder to detect with the advancement of technology. 
  • Under the guidelines of China’s new rules, companies and platforms using the technology must first receive consent from individuals before they edit their voice or image.
deepfake technology
Image Source: Alan Zuconi

China’s new policy to curb deepfakes

  • The policy requires deep synthesis service providers and users to ensure that any doctored content using the technology is explicitly labeled and can be traced back to its source. 
  • The regulation also mandates people using technology to edit someone’s image or voice, to notify and take the consent of the person in question. 
  • When reposting news made by technology, the source can only be from the government-approved list of news outlets. 
  • Deep synthesis service providers must also abide by local laws, respect ethics, and maintain the “correct political direction and correct public opinion orientation”.

Other Countries' initiatives to combat deepfakes

The European Union

  • The European Union introduced an updated Code of Practice to stop the spread of disinformation through deepfakes in 2018. 
  • The revised Code requires tech companies including Google, Meta, and Twitter to take measures within 6 months of signing up for the Code, in countering deepfakes and fake accounts on their platforms. 
  • If found non-compliant, these companies can face fines of as much as 6% of their annual global turnover, according to the updated Code. 
  • The assessment of the Code revealed important gaps and hence the Commission has issued Guidance on Code’s revision process, which was completed in June 2022.

The U.S.

  • The U.S. introduced the bipartisan Deepfake Task Force Act to assist the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to counter deepfake technology. 
  • It is to assess the technology used, track its uses by foreign and domestic entities, and come up with available countermeasures to tackle the same.
  • Some States in the United States such as California and Texas have passed laws that criminalize the publishing and distributing of deepfake videos that intend to influence the outcome of an election. 
  • The law in Virginia imposes criminal penalties on the distribution of nonconsensual deepfake pornography or ai generated porn.


  • Canada does not have any regulations to tackle deepfakes, but it is in a unique position to lead the initiative to counter deepfakes by conducting the most cutting-edge AI research. 
  • Furthermore, Canada is a member and leader in many related multilateral initiatives like the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace, the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, and the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence. 
  • It can use these forums to coordinate with global and domestic actors to create deepfake policies in different areas.

India: In India, there are no legal rules against using deepfake technology. 

Way Forward

  • The government should take initiative to curb this as the unchecked development and use of deep synthesis could lead to its use in criminal activities like online scams or defamation.
  • The specific laws can also be addressed for misusing the tech, which includes Copyright Violation, Defamation, and cyber felonies.
  • Such moves should be taken that specifically aims to curb risks that might arise from activities provided by platforms that use deep learning or virtual reality to alter any online content. 

News Source: The Hindu

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