The Election Commission of India has issued guidance to all political parties, urging them to abstain from using deepfakes and other forms of misinformation in their social media communications during the ongoing general elections. This action follows criticism faced by the constitutional body for perceived inaction against such tactics in the world’s most populous democracy.

The advisory, issued in a document on Monday, mandates political parties to promptly remove any deepfake audio or video content within three hours of identification. Additionally, parties are encouraged to identify and caution individuals responsible for generating manipulated content. This move by the Election Commission follows a directive from the Delhi High Court to address the issue, prompted by a petition.

India, with a population exceeding 1.5 billion, commenced its general elections on April 19, slated to conclude on June 1. The electoral process has been embroiled in controversies surrounding the proliferation of deepfakes and misinformation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concerns last month about the dissemination of fabricated recordings purportedly featuring leaders making statements they never uttered, alleging a conspiracy to foment societal discord.

Indian authorities have apprehended at least six individuals affiliated with the social media teams of the Indian National Congress, the principal opposition party, for circulating a fraudulent video purportedly depicting Home Minister Amit Shah making statements he denies ever making.

India has been contending with the proliferation and dissemination of deepfakes for several months. In November, Ashwini Vaishnaw, India’s IT Minister, engaged with major social media firms, including Meta and Google, and collectively agreed on the necessity for regulatory measures to counter the spread of deepfake content and related apps.

In January, another IT Minister cautioned tech companies of significant penalties, including potential bans, for failing to combat deepfake content actively. Despite these efforts, India has yet to formalize its draft regulations on deepfakes into law.

The Election Commission reiterated on Monday its consistent directives to political parties and their leaders to exercise decorum and restraint in public campaigning.