Chinese deepfake app allows you to swap faces with celebrities

Zao is facing privacy concerns after allowing users to turn into film stars using artificial intelligence.

    2019/09/11

NSFW    BEIJING — A face-swapping app that allows users to become their favorite celebrities is blowing up in China.

The app is called Zao and it allows users to submit a selfie of their choice after which the app superimposes their face onto film stars like Leonardo DiCaprio or onto characters from TV shows such as Game of Thrones.

The app transforms the user's face by blending their features with the celebrities' features and placing it into original film clips that are around five to 10 seconds in length.

Just two days after the app was released, netizens in China noticed that a clause in the app allowed it to keep user images and potentially sell them to third parties without any consent from the user.

One user commented on Weibo: "Why is an app restricting us on our rights to our own selfies?"

Another user commented saying that: "Don't you dare take my images and use them for anything! What a terrible app!"

A third said: "The app is fun and interesting, but you should improve user security because it is really worrisome."

The controversial clause has since been removed from the app's terms of service.

Momo, the company behind Zao, released a statement saying the app will not store user images, and explained that users are not at risk of identity theft if they use the app.

The company explained that they present a virtual image of a person and don't collect anyone's biometric data or features for facial recognition.

Zao said it would allow users to delete images that were previous uploaded onto its platform.

However, some users were quick to point out that Zao didn't mention what would happen to images that were previously stored on the app's server.
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