FAKE Election Video – Manipulating VOTERS

Normally, a congressional election in India doesn’t attract international attention, especially when the result of the contest isn’t expected to change the balance of power in the the Indian government in a way that might impact foreign policy or trade concerns.

This year, however, is not a normal year. This year, a video released on the Internet appeared to show Rahul Gandhi, the leader of India’s opposition party, privately conceding that incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi will win the current election contest. While it is true that the Bharatlya Janta Party (or the BJP, the current ruling party of which Modi is a member) is the odds -on favorite to win, the remarks that Rahul Ghandi makes in the video were fiction. Ghandi never made such remarks. In fact, in the source video (upon which the Internet hoax video was based), he talked up his belief that an alliance of opposition parties will defeat the BJP in the megastate of Uttar Pradesh, located in northern India.

The hoax video got a lot of traction on the X social media platform when it posted on May 14 in the Hindi language, racking up hundreds of thousands of views. In the video, Ghandi, speaking from a dais, says that the opposition coalition, despite having done its best to win, will not gain a single seat in Uttar Pradesh.

Voting in the Indian parliamentary election runs for six weeks, during which candidates and parties campaign furiously. This post, and others like it shared to X and Facebook, appear to have been broadly believed by commenters.

Rather than a deep fake, the hoax video used garden-variety video editing—the word “not” was clipped from a key clause, and done skillfully enough that viewers largely didn’t notice. Given the widespread availability of video editing tools and the soaring costs of traditional campaign advertising, the world’s democracies may be in for a future in which tactics such as the Ghandi hoax video become a regular feature in political campaigns.