09.09 2019 12:41h

Deepfake Apps: Fun or Risky Business?

Think twice before trying out that face-swapping app
Deepfake, Zao, Apps, Face-swapping, Face swapping apps

After the #tenyearchallenge took social media by storm a few months ago, face-swapping apps have become all the rage.

Influencers around the world have been sharing images and videos of themselves looking, well, not like themselves at all.

From Snapchat’s gender swap and baby face filters to apps that will make it look like you starred in a Hollywood film, creating content with “deepfake” technology is undoubtedly trendy with the Millennial and Gen-Z demographic.

What is Deepfake?

Think of it as user-friendly, hyper-realistic Photoshop.

According to Popular Mechanics deepfake technology was invented in 2014 by Ian Goodfellow, a Ph.D. student who now works at Apple. The technology is based on generative adversarial networks (GANs). Essentially, popular deepfake apps can alter and superimpose a user's face onto an image or video, changing their appearance and making the user appear to be somewhere they aren't.

While deepfake apps are a fun way to create content, some have received serious backlash over privacy concerns.

According to The Guardian ". . . there has been growing concern over deepfakes, which use artificial intelligence to appear genuine. Critics say the technology can be used to create bogus videos to manipulate elections, defame someone, or potentially cause unrest by spreading misinformation on a massive scale."

Last week Chinese app ZAO was in the hot seat when it came to users' data and face-swapping shenanigans. 

According to Singapore’s Independent the app “. . . works by superimposing an image of the user’s face onto a character in a video or GIF using artificial intelligence (AI).”

Users who download ZAO can then create an account and upload photos of their faces to be superimposed on video clips of celebrity images. Sounds like a lot of fun – until you read the terms and conditions, that is.

According to Reuters ". . . one section of the user agreement stated that consumers who upload their images to ZAO agree to surrender the intellectual property rights to their face, and permit ZAO to use their images for marketing purposes."

ZAO has claimed it is looking into its users' concerns, but it goes to show how social media fans need to be vigilant when downloading news apps and sharing personal details (including images and video.) Be sure you know what information you're "giving up" and what a company could potentially do with it down the line (i.e. sell it to third parties, share it with government bodies, etc.) 

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.

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