New app creates more arguments over deepfakes

An iPhone app has caused further controversy in the world of AI as a game that creates deepfakes using just one image has stirred up a range of privacy concerns.

Last Friday, an app called Zao was released on the Chinese iOS store that allows people to swap their own face with that of a celebrity using just a photo.

Users can replace the face of a famous person with their own and through the use of deepfake, can re-enact memorable movie scenes or sports moments. Since its release, the application has had millions of downloads.

Deepfakes work through mimicking a person’s actions and facial expressions to create an almost exact copy of the original image or video.

Stealing people’s identity

However, Momo Inc, who owns Zao, has been asked to say what they will be doing with the photos after concerns over privacy arose. Especially as, before a corrected version of the privacy policy was released, the agreement policy stated the photos were “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicense-able”. This is according to the news website, Bloomberg.

There is a strong fear that they may be used for marketing purposes without people’s permission.

What’s more is that there is a worry that if these photos get into the wrong hands, they will be used to commit fraud or extortion. Something which is a growing worry as deepfakes and AI continue to develop.

Zao’ response

The company released a statement on its website regarding the concerns. It says, “We thoroughly understand the anxiety people have toward privacy concerns…We have received the questions you have sent us. We will correct the areas we have not considered and require some time.”

In July this year, Face-app, a mobile game that makes people look older using a photo of themselves, was also made to deal with concerns over privacy. People were anxious that the app was being infiltrated by the Russian government who were using it to stealing people’s data. The company responded by clarifying its privacy policy.


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