An AI-generated deepfake video of actor Rashmika Mandanna had emerged online on Sunday, 5 November. The video, that has gone viral since, was created by morphing Rashmika's face onto the body of British-Indian model and influencer Zara Patel.
A lot of people, including veteran Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar, expressed their concerns regarding such misuse of technology and even called for legal action.
Rashmika herself shared a statement on 6 November, saying how scared she was for everyone out there.
'I Didn't Even Know Who Rashmika Mandanna Was'
Now, The Quint spoke to Zara Patel about the video and what action she has taken regarding this invasion of privacy.
The influencer, who has been creating content since 2021, also said that people have been reporting her Instagram account too and she has been caught up in this controversy.
"I was really scared. I reported the video to Instagram, but there is no section where you can report a "deepfake". I tried to report it as fraud, but technically this is not a fraud. I don’t know how Instagram is going to deal with this, because there are other bigger influencers facing similar problems, where their bodies are being digitally manipulated on someone else's videos. I have seen a lot of women influencers based in the US, who have posted about deepfake videos about them. I don't know how to go about it, so I have sought counsel from other people who have gone through this."Zara Patel, Model and influencer
'I Am Getting a Lot of Hate'
Zara said that she is being subjected to a lot of critical comments, when she herself is in the dark about this incident. ""I did not expect this to blow up so much. People are sending this to me and saying, 'hey, is this you?' I am also being subjected to a lot of harsh comments. The tough part is that I am a regular person, and the video has such a popular actor's face on it. People are very confused as to who did what. I just want to say - I don't know how to use AI tools, so I have nothing to do with this."
Zara even told The Quint that she has come across the Instagram account that creates these deepfake videos. "It’s one of those pages that create content by copying videos from actors' accounts. I came across the page, and suddenly this video went viral." The account seems to have been removed from Instagram following the outrage.
'There's So Much Misinformation In India, The Govt Needs to Look Into It'
The influencer told The Quint that she is seeing this happen with content creators who have a certain body type. "It's very scary because this is the weirdest way to commit identity theft - using your body but not your face."
Zara hopes that India comes up with stricter regulations to deal with deepfakes.
"I think that in a place like India, especially in certain areas and cities, there's a lot of misinformation that is spread, so a thing like this can be very problematic. I have noticed that whenever influencers report similar things in the US, the posts are taken down a lot quicker. I don't know how it works in other regions, but I think this is something that the Indian government needs to take care of."Zara Patel
"I see these things happening with women influencers who have a huge following. This is going to become very problematic," she added.
'I Wish Women Would Feel Safer Posting Their Videos On Social Media'
Zara advised other creators to be careful and to listen to their community. "Check your comments to see if other people are posting your content. It’s a scary world we live in, where people can misuse your body and your voice. We need more regulations from the government on this."
Zara said that while she has received a lot of love on social media, there are risks when it comes to being a content creator. "I wish women would feel more safe putting themselves and their content out there."