Google, Shakti Tackle Misinformation and Deepfakes

Google has announced its support for Shakti, a coalition of news publishers and fact-checkers, in a significant step in combating online misinformation. This program aims to detect internet misinformation, including deepfakes, as early as possible and to create a standard repository for news producers to properly address such difficulties.

What is Shakti?

Shakti is a consortium of Indian fact-checkers and news publishers, including the Misinformation Combat Alliance, The Quint, India Today Group, Boom and the Press Trust of India, among others. The consortium aims to combat misinformation and disinformation, especially during the election period, by collaborating on research, verification and dissemination of factual information.

How will Google help Shakti?

Google will provide Shakti with a collaborative platform to share fact checks, research resources and alerts on elections-related viral misinformation and deepfakes. Google will also provide training in advanced fact-checking methodologies, deepfake detection and Google tools like the Fact Check Explorer. Once something has been fact-checked, partnered Indian publishers will amplify fact-checked information on their platforms.

Why is this important?

This initiative comes at a time when deepfakes and misinformation pose a serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process and the public trust in democracy. Deepfakes are manipulated videos or images that use artificial intelligence to create realistic but false representations of people or events. They can be used to spread false or misleading information, damage reputations or influence opinions.

According to a report by Deeptrace, a company that tracks deepfake activity, there were more than 100,000 deepfake videos online in 2024, up from 14,678 in 2020. The report also found that India was among the top five countries where deepfake videos were produced or consumed.

To prevent the misuse of deepfakes and other forms of online misinformation, major tech companies like Google, Adobe, Microsoft, Meta and TikTok signed an accord in 2024 to combat the deceptive use of artificial intelligence in political contexts. The accord aims to curb deepfakes of political candidates, election officials and other key stakeholders.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) also issued an advisory to intermediaries and platforms in 2024, requiring them to ensure that their services do not permit any bias or discrimination or threaten the integrity of the electoral process via the use of AI models.

By partnering with Shakti, Google hopes to contribute to the efforts of ensuring a fair and informed election in India.

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