After FaceApp, a new Chinese app is going viral among users. Named ‘Zao’, the app leverages deepfake technology offering face swapping. While the app is apparently fun to use, it also raises serious security concerns.
Zao App – Another Deepfake App
Reportedly, a new Chinese app ‘Zao’ has become the latest craze among the users. Leveraging the deepfake AI, Zao allows the users to swiftly and smoothly swap their faces in any video.
Zao primarily works over users’ selfies. With a single picture, it can swap the intended face in any video with that of the user. Then, using deepfake AI, the now edited video shows the user’s face mimicking the original movements of the character, such as the actual facial expressions and eye blinking.
A user has shared a demonstration of this app online about how it works.
In case you haven't heard, #ZAO is a Chinese app which completely blew up since Friday. Best application of 'Deepfake'-style AI facial replacement I've ever seen.
Here's an example of me as DiCaprio (generated in under 8 secs from that one photo in the thumbnail) 🤯 pic.twitter.com/1RpnJJ3wgT
— Allan Xia (@AllanXia) September 1, 2019
The developers launched the app in China, and, since then, it has gone viral. Within a few days, the app succeeded in gathering a large chunk of users.
ZAO is very worrying -significant data collection concerns
The user agreement allows Zao “completely free, irrevocable, perpetual, transferrable, and re-licensable rights” to edit and distribute content uploaded and created on the platform, as well as full copyright and ownership https://t.co/T6AQ8FZDIX
— Norah Casey (@NorahCasey) September 2, 2019
Gladly, it seems the enrage had compelled the developers to revise their policy. According to the user Allan Xia, the controversial phrase is no more there.
You're right, that's what sparked the debates amongst netizens in China. In response, #Zao's terms have been updated yesterday to remove the “completely free, irrevocable, perpetual, transferrable, and re-licensable rights” phrase and an account deletion function has been added. https://t.co/StMtsopkTb
— Allan Xia (@AllanXia) September 2, 2019
Also, the official Twitter account of Zao app hints a possible revision to the privacy agreement.
— Zao Official (@ZaoApp) September 3, 2019
Yet, even after the change in the app’s privacy, the concerns aren’t over. There still remains one more thing that you should be concerned about, Deepfake driving the app.
Why You Should Worry About Deepfake
Deepfake isn’t a new technology. It has been around for at least a couple of years. The term is specifically a hybrid of ‘deep learning’ and ‘fake’ – depicting the artificial intelligence behind it. Even after its inception for some time, it gained popularity only recently (even among the general public) owing to various apps using it such as FaceApp.
Although, these apps apparently provide entertainment to the users. However, the capability of the technology behind these apps to swap faces in any media, artificially create videos from pictures, and change the facial look almost seamlessly, is alarming.
With such seamless editing, it becomes difficult to distinguish between the genuine and forged media. Consequently, it bears numerous cons, particularly when a mad technologist exploits it. For instance,
- Fake news: While, the issue of dissemination of fake news due to Photoshopped images awaits an appropriate solution, the technology of creating forged videos will further fuel the fire. It becomes way easier to swap faces of political figures in videos to spread fake news.
- False allegations – With face swapping, it won’t be difficult to accuse anyone of any filthy act, such as harassment, to defame the victim. Considering the media hype that most political scandals gain, people may easily abuse the technology to humiliate anyone at any critical time.
- Threat to men/women – While editing pictures into nudes was already a problem for some, deepfake further makes them vulnerable to revenge porn.
Although, people are working towards creating software for identifying fake content, such efforts are of little when the only aim of a malefactor is to disseminate fake content. By the time someone validates an image or a video, the internet would be flooded with the fake version.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.