Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that deepfakes have become a matter of serious concern for the country and that there was a need to educate people on what their impacts could be.

Deepfakes are techniques to manipulate audio and video content with the help of artificial intelligence software to show people saying or doing things that they never said or did. The content is made to appear as realistic as possible and is often used with malicious intent.

Deepfake content poses a new threat to an online ecosystem that already teems with fake photos created through editing software as well as misinformation and disinformation.

Modi, at an event in New Delhi on Friday, said that a large section of the population does not have the means to verify information. “This [deepfakes] can lead society towards a big crisis,” he said. “It can cause the fire of discontent to spread very quickly.”

The prime minister remarked that recently, he came across a deepfake video depicting him playing garba, a Gujarati folk dance. “I myself admired how well it was made,” he said. “But I never got the chance [to play garba] since my school days.”

However, fact-checkers have highlighted that the garba video the prime minister referred to is not a deepfake. The video featured a Modi lookalike.

On Friday, Modi also said that he recently discussed deepfakes with a group of people who worked on ChatGPT, a chatbot based on artificial intelligence that was launched in November last year. He said that he urged them to put in place warnings to users about deepfake content.

The prime minister made the remarks days after a video purportedly showing actor Rashmika Mandanna went viral. The original video was of Zara Patel, a British-Indian social media influencer, and the visuals were morphed to show Mandanna’s face instead of Patel.

The video sparked concerns about the potential misuse of deepfakes and led to calls for regulating the technology.

On November 7, the Union Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology issued an advisory reminding social media companies of the Information Technology Rules 2021 which make it mandatory for them to identify and remove misinformation and deepfakes from their platforms.