A face-swapping app shows how easily deep-fake technology can be used as a “weapon” against women

Deepfakes use AI to edit the similarities of a person’s face in a video and swap it out with another face.Getty Images

  • App stores have removed Facemega, a deepfake app that featured Emma Watson’s face in a suggestive video.

  • The lewd ad was promoted on Meta, which later removed it after NBC News coverage.

  • A lawyer said the new deepfake technology could become a “weapon” of harassment against women and girls.

Several online stores and Meta have removed a controversial face-swap app that promoted a sexually suggestive ad featuring the face of Harry Potter actress Emma Watson that was forced on someone else.

The app for creating deepfakes called Facemega featured a woman with Watson’s face smiling flirtatiously and then getting on her knees for a man. The caption read, “Change any face in the video!” A screen capture of the ad posted Twitter received 3.2 million views.

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence to substitute one person’s likeness for another in videos and other digital media, and their use has raised ethical and privacy concerns.

A lawyer told Insider that this is just one example of how emerging deepfake technology could be used as a “weapon” against women and girls.

Michael Farhi, an attorney who has previously published material on the subject, told Insider that the use of AI “will lead to a huge leap in its weaponizing role against women online around the world.” He added that women are the most popular demographic to be targeted by such harassment.

Deepfakes and revenge porn are already a threat to women, and the AI ​​technology that makes fake videos look convincingly real will “quadruple” the negative impact, Farhi said.

The Facemega ad ran on Facebook until the site removed it after reporting from NBC News, who reported that the app also ran ads featuring Scarlett Johansson’s face in provocative videos. Facemega was listed for free on Apple and Google Play, both of which have since removed it, but similar apps remain listed in both stores.

An Apple spokesperson told Insider that the company has removed the app from the Apple Store and that the company doesn’t allow apps that are defamatory, pornographic, or mean in content designed to humiliate others. A Google spokesman said the company took “reasonable action” and removed the app for “violations of our policies.”

A Meta spokesperson told Insider that their “policy prohibits adult content, whether generated by AI or not,” and that FaceMega’s page has been restricted on Facebook.

Watson’s legal representative could not be reached for comment.

Still images of the advertisement for a deepfake app using Emma Watson's face.

Still images of the advertisement for a deepfake app using Emma Watson’s face.Twitter

The lewd ad appeared to violate Facemega’s terms of service, which prohibit users from uploading defamatory or sexually explicit content.

Chinese software company Wondershare owns Facemega, a company spokesperson confirmed to Insider. When asked about the ad, Wondershare’s spokesperson said, “Our legal department is already investigating this matter and the ad content has also been removed from the shelves.”

Deepfake technology is used as a “weapon” against women, the lawyer said

In the US, victims of deepfake porn “have potential claims such as defamation, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress,” Farhi told Insider. But he also said that taking international legal action against a Chinese company is a “hurdle”.

“A lawyer, anywhere in the US, who sends a cease and desist letter to a company in China, even if it’s properly translated, will have little to no effect in practice. So where are you going next? You’re going against Facebook, which has its own challenging rules and regulations in terms of what it posts and what ads it runs,” Farhi said.

Public pressure against companies sharing the content may be more effective than legal action, Farhi said. He added that “technology advances are moving too fast to be enshrined in law”. Deepfake technology, like all technological advances, has “pros and cons,” but Farhi said the potential harms are “swept under the rug.”

“Proponents of AI, of course, push the idea that you get instant research and instant support at work. For developers, this is a huge benefit and a great tool,” said Farhi. “It’s going to be a bloody nightmare even more than what’s out there now as a tool or weapon to harm women.”

Farhi said a particularly vulnerable group is likely to be young girls, who are already being bombarded with revenge and deepfake porn on a regular basis.

“This will cause real harm to countless girls and women. Not just in high school, before high school in elementary school or middle school, through to women in their 20s, 30s and beyond,” Farhi said. “And the easier it is, or the easier it is for a predator – and it will be a lot easier – the more it will be done.”

Read the original article on Insider

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