04:27 GMT +322 October 2019
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    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

    'Cool and Disturbing': Netizens Divided Over New Chinese Deepfake App Allowing to Star in Films, TV Shows

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    Deepfake apps have been gaining popularity in recent years as neural network technologies advanced allowing realistic manipulations of images and videos to be done even on users' smartphones. But with technology have come various concerns with regards to privacy and loss credibility of photo and video evidence.

    Chinese mobile app publisher Momo’s lastest development, called ZAO, has gone viral in the country, allowing Chinese residents to become "Hollywood stars" in their favourite movies and TV shows. The app can replace an actor's face with that of a user using a single selfie photo, though only in a number of selected fragments from popular motion pictures.

    One user inserted himself in the roles played by Leonardo DiCaprio, noting that such technology could possibly be utilized by streaming giants in the future to increase user engagement in content, as well as increase "Asian representation in Hollywood".

    ZAO's success has been clouded by privacy concerns raised by the website RADII, which pointed out that the company reserves its rights to any user-generated content in its terms of service, but Momo later amended them allowing individuals to opt-out of their videos being used without their consent.

    Still, this hasn't alleviated netizens concerns, especially concerning ZAO being developed by a Chinese company and thus its data could end up in the hands of the government, in line with so far unfounded accusations of alleged espionage against its own citizens.

    One Twitterian noted that a user's data, namely photos, are already mostly available online for free since many netizens freely post selfies on social media platforms en masse.

    Others pointed out that ZAO's success in creating credible looking fakes only adds to the fears that the technology could be used to fabricate evidence in criminal cases and scandals.

    Some Twitterians were left with mixed emotions about the technology, since it is as exciting as its potential for misuse is scary.

    Deepfake neural network technology’s capabilities have earlier faced criticism over other aspects of its applications. Namely, similar technology was used by an app called DeepNude that could "undress" any woman in a photo and the DeepFake app being used to create porno clips "featuring" Hollywood stars and other famous personalities.


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    Hollywood stars, social media reactions, Deepfakes
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