Amidst an increase in deepfake videos and images, tech giant Meta has partnered with Misinformation Combat Alliance (MCA) to launch a dedicated fact-checking helpline on WhatsApp to combat deepfakes and help connect with verified and credible information. The helpline will be available for the public in March this year.

"We recognise the concerns around AI-generated misinformation and believe combating this requires concrete and cooperative measures," Shivnath Thukral, director, Public Policy India, Meta, says in a statement.

"We remain committed to work with industry stakeholders to introduce common technical standards for AI detection, transparency solutions and policies, along with empowering people on our platforms with resources and tools that make it simpler for them to identify content that has been generated using tools," he adds.

The helpline will include a network of independent fact-checkers and research organisations who will address artificial intelligence-generated media particularly deepfakes, says MCA. "People will be able to flag them by sending it to the WhatsApp Chatbot which will offer multilingual support in English and three regional languages (Hindi, Telugu and Tamil)," says MCA.

Notably, the MCA will also set up a central 'Deepfake Analysis Unit' to assess and verify content and messages for false claims and misinformation received via the WhatsApp helpline.

According to MCA, the programme will be implemented via a ‘four-pillar approach’ i.e. detection, prevention, reporting and driving awareness around the escalating spread of deepfakes. "The focus of the program is to implement a four-pillar approach — detection, prevention, reporting and driving awareness around the escalating spread of deepfakes along with building critical instrument that allows citizens to access reliable information to fight the spread of such misinformation," says MCA.

The development comes after the deepfake videos and images of several celebrities, politicians and industrialists including Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy went viral on social media. Taking cognizance of the rising deepfake incidences, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) last year issued guidelines to the social media platforms including due diligence while asking them to comply with the existing IT rules.

"Misinformation represents a deep threat to the safety and trust of users on the Internet. Deepfake which is misinformation powered by AI, further amplifies the threat to safety and trust of our Digital Nagriks," union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar said earlier.   

Notably, to tighten the noose around deepfakes, Google, in November last year, launched an initiative by labelling genAI-generated images with metadata and embedded watermarking them with SynthID.

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