Privacy Row Ignited After Chinese Deepfake App Zao Goes Viral

There is a raging privacy row in China over a new Chinese app that allows its users to convincingly swap their faces with film or TV characters. The app has fast gained popularity in the country and has become the most downloaded apps there.

The app makes use of deepfake technology, which has raised serious concerns in other places of the world because many fear its potential misuse. The app, called the Zao app, was released on last Friday which is used by people to see themselves acting out scenes from well-known movies. The app has gone viral in China.

A series of selfies where in the users blink, move their mouths and make facial expressions is provided by the users. The app makes use of these expressions to make a realistic morph of the animated likeness of the users on to movies, TV shows or other content.

The controversy surrounding the app forced the company to issue a statement on Sunday in which it promised that changes in the app would be brought in by it ads critics targeted the  privacy policy of the app because it allowed the company to gain “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicenseable” rights to all user-generated content.

There are growing concerns about the use of deepfakes because it makes use of artificial intelligence to make duplicates appear genuine. This technology, according to analysts and critics, allows people to make fake videos to influence elections or define someone or possibly even cause unrest by spreading misinformation on a massive scale.

“We understand the concerns about privacy. We’ve received the feedback, and will fix the issues that we didn’t take into consideration, which will take some time,” a statement released by Zao said.

Momo Inc, a Tinder-like dating service that is listed on the US Nasdaq, owns the Zao app.

The company has already altered its terms of privacy and now pledges that headshots or videos uploaded by users would not be used by it except for enhancing the quality and usability of the app. Any content that was uploaded but subsequently deleted by users would also be removed from the servers of the company, it has also pledged.

However the popularity of the app has not been dented by the criticisms. According to the app market data provider App Annie, it was still the top free download in China.

Since the 2016 US presidential elections, there have been growing concerns about deepfakes. According US investigations, the last presidential election in the country saw wide use of online misinformation.

Facebook has been finding it hard to work out ways to deal with deepfake videos, the social media’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg had said in June this year. He had said that Facebook may constitute “a completely different category” of misinformation than anything faced before.

(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)

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Categories: Creativity, Economy & Finance, Regulations & Legal, Strategy, Sustainability, Uncategorized

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