Deep Fake Face Off


Deep Fake Face Off

Zao, a Chinese app that allows people to swap their faces into films and TV scenes, is causing controversy after it became the most downloaded app over the weekend.


The way the app works is that you upload several headshots or videos of your own face doing a series of movements, after which the app is able to insert it into movies and TV shows seamlessly.


The main concern of the app isn’t disrespecting the artistic integrity of an episode of Friends, but the fact that the app’s privacy policy means it owns all user-generated content.


You might be asking, ’What possible use could my face possibly be’?


The main concern is that the app will contribute to an already tricky task of telling real from fake. During the US 2016 election, for example, a number of such ‘deep fake’ videos were released.


One example was Nanci Pelosi stammering through a speech, which was even retweeted by the Messiah of all things fake Donald Trump. Another showed Mauricio Macri, president of Argentina, being replaced with Adolf Hitler when addressing the country.


So, while you’re trying to re-enact a scene from Titanic with your face in it, you could soon be a cameo in Vladimir Putin’s latest Republican campaign video.


The company behind this, Momo Inc, has said they will look into the issue, and only use people’s uploads if it is for the purpose of improving the app itself. Unfortunately, they’ve been unwilling to specify what it is that improves the app, but the $4 rise in their share price should be a clue.


But there is more bad news. Even if you don’t care about election meddling, the technology could be used to blackmail or entrap. So, if you’re in the business of blackmailing people with compromising videos, your work just got a lot easier.


On the other hand, if there already is a video of you out there that you’re not particularly proud of – think anything that happens in and around a McDonalds at 4 am – you can soon just claim it’s a deep fake or insert Leonardo DiCaprio into it.

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