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Chinese Deep Fake App Zao Turns You Into a Celebrity, but Privacy Is an Issue

Chinese Deep Fake App Zao Turns You Into a Celebrity, but Privacy Is an Issue

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Have you ever wanted to become a celebrity?

Go for it, but please, please avoid going the “easy route” with Zao, a deep-fake app that can convert a user’s face into a celebrity has gone viral and reached the number one spot on China’s iOS store.

But the viral app has also raised major questions around privacy.

The app uses facial recognition to replace celebrities’ faces with yours in video clips, but it’s raising concerns about how your face is being used and who has access to deepfake technology.

The app works like this: by uploading one of your selfies to the app, it can place your face on top of celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, making it seem like you starred in the Titanic.

The app essentially lets anyone create a deepfake, or a fake video that seems incredibly real.

This is what the app does:

According to a Bloomberg story, the original version of Zao’s user agreement granted Momo “free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicense-able” rights to any user-generated content.

The fear is that if someone were to potentially upload a picture of a public figure, a celebrity or someone else, they could easily make it seem as though that person was doing something that never happened.

This prompted the China E-Commerce Research Center to release a statement on Monday claiming that the deepfake app “violates certain laws and standards set by the nation and the industry” and urging authorities to look into Zao.

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ZAO has since responded and updated the agreement, writing that it changed the controversial passages and that it would remove any user-deleted content from its servers, too.

The question remains how liable the company can be held for potential violations, though – businesses based in China have historically been treated rather laxly about infringements of any kind.

Other concerns revolve around malicious actors creating imagery for smear campaigns or to fool facial recognition systems, which ZAO assures wouldn’t be possible with its service.

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