More Concern Over Deepfakes Technology as Apps get Creative with “Face-swap”

By:  |  Category: Security Thursday, January 9th, 2020  |  No Comments

We’ve seen our photos transformed to show how we might look years into the future, the past, and edited to make ourselves more (and sometimes less) attractive.

It’s possible to edit our faces in every type of media, and now ByteDance, the parent company of the highly popular app TikTok and Chinese sister app Douyin, has created an unreleased feature to “face-swap” within a TikTok video.

In other words, this addition will “let you insert your face into videos starring someone else.”

This feature is a controversial Deepfakes technology using a “multi-angle biometric scan” of a person’s face to then insert into the chosen video, and it’s shockingly realistic. The technology used was “built atop” the Chinese Deepfake app Zao (going viral in September regardless of security concerns), and uses AI to blend a person’s face with another person’s body and respond to facial movements etc.

The hope is that using this technology in a “controlled environment” with limited source videos could be used for “fun instead of spreading misinformation.” Additional hopes if this feature is added to the TikTok app are that it “might also raise awareness of the technology so more people are aware that they shouldn’t believe everything they see online.”

Likely? We’re not entirely convinced. The problem is what could be done with the biometric data collected.

This may not however, be a feature released to the public at all. Despite the in-app market research startup Watchfuk.ai discovering Face Swap code in both Tik Tok and Douyin that references the Chinese app Zao, and unpublished updates in “terms of service that cover privacy and usage of the Deepfakes feature,” both companies are denying the features use, introduction, or affiliation with Zao.

The Chinese application Zao, was “previously blocked by China’s WeChat for presenting ‘security risks.’”

TikTok did however acknowledge the Zao (Face Swap) code imbedded in the application and said, “The inactive code fragments are being removed to eliminate any confusion.”

Even unreleased, this feature exists, is fully functional, and is so controversial that it would be restricting access for minors, eliminating use by anyone under the age of 18. The terms of service also specified users would not be able to upload their own source videos, eliminating the apps use to create misinformation Deepfakes.

Watchful.ai co-founder Itay Kahana explains, “These deepfake apps might seem like fun on the surface, but they should not be allowed to become trojan horses, compromising IP rights and personal data, especially personal data from minors who are overwhelmingly the heaviest users of TikTok to date.”

Welcome to the evolution of social media.

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Emmy Seigler



Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/search/selfie/

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