BJP says it tested Manoj Tiwari’s video created using AI technology during Delhi polls, denies tie-up with firm

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Updated: Feb 19, 2020 4:23 PM

The BJP has denied using deepfake videos of Manoj Tiwari during the Delhi Assembly elections to reach out to a larger base of voters.

Manoj Tiwari deepfake videosBJP denies using ‘deepfakes’ in social media campaign for Delhi polls.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has clarified that the video of its Delhi chief Manoj Tiwari that showed him speaking in Haryanvi was an experiment that it had tested on its WhatsApp groups. Speaking to Financial Express Online, Delhi BJP IT Cell and social-media co-in charge Neelkant Bakshi said that the video in Haryanvi, created using Artificial Intelligence technologies, was presented before them by a firm and it was sent on its over 5,000 WhatsApp groups in Delhi-NCR only to be tested. “We did not make use of this technology for our social media campaign. The Haryanvi version of Manoj Tiwari’s speech came up during a presentation. We only tested it on WhatsApp once. This was not part of our campaign on social media or anywhere else,” Bakshi said.

A report in Vice has claimed that the Delhi unit of the BJP used ‘deepfake technology’ during the Delhi Assembly elections to reach out to a larger base of voters through social media. As per the report, the IT cell of the Delhi BJP, in a tie-up with a firm called The Ideaz Factory, used Artificial Intelligence to create deepfake videos of Manoj Tiwari and pushed it on several WhatsApp groups ahead of the polls.

“We are sitting at such a position where many agencies come and display or talk about their products. We have not tied up with any agency for creating such videos using deepfake technology,” Bakshi told Financial Express Online.

“One of our team members had come across a video of (Manoj) Tiwari ji in Haryanavi language so we had circulated that in our internal groups only. It was felt that if the video had been in the English language it would have been better, so one of our team members asked for the English video which those guys gave us,” he added.

The videos in question were circulated on February 7, just a day before the voting, the Vice reported. The 44-second videos that it published showed Tiwari speaking in Hindi, English and Haryanvi, questioning the Aam Aadmi Party’s claims of setting up 500 schools and installing 15 lakh CCTVs in the national capital.

The report had claimed that Delhi BJP’s IT Cell entered a deal with Chandigarh-based communication firm The Ideaz Factory to create a ‘positive campaign’ for the party using the deepfake videos. However, Bakshi categorically denied this claim and said, “We had not tied up with any of such agencies and if used positively the technology definitely sounds good,” Bakshi said.

Vice had reported that The Ideaz Factory confirmed that it did create Tiwari’s videos. Sagar Vishnoi, chief strategist at The Ideaz Factory said that they used a lip-sync deepfake algorithm to create the videos. He said that the firm hired a dubbing artist to impersonate Tiwari speaking in different languages.

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