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Home / Business / Another compelling deepfake app goes viral asking for immediate privacy setbacks

Another compelling deepfake app goes viral asking for immediate privacy setbacks



Zao, a free deep swap face swapping app that can place your resemblance in scenes from hundreds of movies and TV shows after uploading just a single photograph, has gone viral in China. Bloomberg reports that the app was released on Friday, and quickly reached the top of free charts on the Chinese iOS App Store. And like FaceApp's aging app before it, the creators of Zao are now facing a setback over an perceived threat to users' privacy.

Twitter user Allan Xia posted a nice demonstration of what the app is capable of yesterday with a 30 second clip of the face that replaced Leonardo Dicaprio in famous moments from several of his films. According to Xia, the clips were generated in under eight seconds from just a single photograph. Bloomberg notes, however, that the app can also guide you through the process of taking a series of photographs ̵

1; where it will ask you to open and close your mouth and eyes – to generate more realistic results.

According to Xia, the app offers only a limited number of clips for you to put your face in. The app's developer has probably trained its algorithms on each of these clips to easily map the user's face to them, as Xia speculates. The app cannot map your face to any video clip you select.

The technology is similar to what we have recently seen from researchers at London's Imperial College, who demonstrated technology that can turn a single image into a singing portrait. . The difference here is that Zao inserts your resemblance to an existing video, rather than animate an image of you directly. Nonetheless, it demonstrates how fast the underlying technology has evolved: what once required hundreds of images to create a pretty compelling deepfake video now requires only a single image with better results.

Zao's privacy policy generated an almost instant backlash from users, who bombarded the App Store listing with thousands of negative reviews. The Zao app shows the developer as Changsha Shenduronghe Network Technology, who Bloomberg notes is a wholly owned subsidiary of Momo, a Chinese company that owns a live streaming and dating service.

The Privacy Policy includes a clause stating that the developer obtains a "free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable and licensable" license for all user-generated content, according to Bloomberg . The company has been forced to respond quickly to the criticism , and now says they will not use the user's photos or videos for anything other than app enhancements without their consent, and will also delete user data from their servers when users delete the data from the app.

There is a similar controversy to the one that surrounded FaceApp earlier this year, when the face-aging app went viral again in July, the app's developer was forced to clarify its privacy policy and offer users the opportunity to delete their photos from the servers if they so desired. For FaceApp, commenters were quick to point out that the app's privacy policy was far more engaging than many of the most popular mobile apps around the world.

Protesters in Hong Kong are working for is to cover the face with fear that police are using face detection technology to identify and arrest targets. People are becoming increasingly aware of how important their facial image data is, and are rightly concerned about companies that do not provide adequate security to protect them.

Every time a service is offered for free, a company inevitably earns from your data. Sometimes it's for better ad targeting, other times it's to train their AI for better face recognition. You often don't know.


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