Social media campaigning treads along tried and tested path except for rare AI-driven content

An Instagram story featuring CPI(M) stalwart E.K. Nayanar seeking support in his voice for LDF candidate for Attingal V. Joy goes viral. BJP relies on its lucky mascot Narendra Modi’s AI avatar delivering speeches in multiple languages to woo voters. Congress, meanwhile, counters the saffron party with ‘myth busters’ to bust the past guarantees of Modi

Updated - April 14, 2024 12:43 am IST

Published - April 14, 2024 12:37 am IST - KOCHI

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

Illustration: Sreejith R. Kumar

The late CPI(M) stalwart E.K. Nayanar was a crowd-puller for the party during elections. Nearly two decades since his death, the affable leader made a ‘comeback’ to the bustle of electioneering thanks to Artificial Intelligence (AI). A 28-seconds-long Instagram story featuring the former Chief Minister seeking support in his voice for the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate from Attingal Lok Sabha constituency V. Joy has gone viral on social media.

“Nayanar was universally liked and guaranteed an immediate connect with the people, which was the reason he was chosen. We split the story into two parts: video and audio. The audio part was more challenging as we had to get his modulations and slang spot on. We created a data set of his voice, trained an AI model and integrated it with a base voice of a person whose slang almost matched the Kannur lingo of Nayanar. We also used open source software to filter out noise,” said Arun Raj, a visual artist who created the story.

NaMo handle

The BJP, on the other hand, has used AI to create the impression of their lucky mascot Narendra Modi delivering speeches in multiple languages, including in Malayalam. “We have created an exclusive X handle NaMo Malayalam for showcasing the Prime Minister’s speeches across the country in Malayalam,” said S. Jayasankar, convenor, State IT &Social Media Cell of BJP.

AI-driven content, however, were far and few in between as the social media campaigning of political parties and candidates continue to rely on tried and tested stories, reels and short videos across popular platforms. Only, the quality of production has improved significantly with some of the reels and videos almost having a cinematographic quality while aerial shots using drones being the toast.

“Our short videos in Malayalam titled ‘myth busters’ to bust the past guarantees of Modi have become immensely popular and is being now converted into more languages. We have also made explainer videos on the each guarantees enshrined in “Nyay Patra,’ Congress manifesto, and put in place a structured system to disseminate it across various social media platforms for maximising reach. In 100 days, the official Indian National Congress Kerala handle has garnered over 50,000 followers,” said Sarin P., convenor, State Digital Media Cell, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.

Cyber warfare

Political parties are largely following a hub and spoke model when it comes to social media-based campaigning. While political content relevant at the State and national level is being shared by the State cells, the campaigning at the constituency level is mostly left to the teams of individual candidates who mostly engage a mix of party and outside professionals.

Amidst all this, cyber warfare is going on as usual between rival political parties. For instance, the Congress has approached the Election Commission over a fake social media post declaring a protest by the KPCC President in front of the Idukki Diocese in the wake of the screening of movie The Kerala Story. The party found it mischievous and aimed at arousing communal passion exploiting the fact that the acting KPCC President M.M. Hassan was from the Muslim community.

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