The 'deepfake-style face swap app' ZAO has climbed to the top of Android and iPhone download charts in recent weeks. As its popularity grew, so have privacy concerns on Chinese social media, and now, beyond.
Here's how it works:
The sudden wide adoption of ZAO is an “intriguing development in a country where mass surveillance and facial recognition technology are prevalent,” writes Jake Newby at radiichina.com.
“Some social media platforms, including WeChat, have now started blocking ZAO videos,” Newby writes in an update to his story on Monday. “WeChat has done this before with popular rival short video apps.”
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The app — developed by Momo, the same company behind popular Chinese dating app Tantan — became an overnight sensation after it began circulating on Friday evening. Hashtags related to the app quickly became some of the hottest on microblogging site Weibo, while the app rocketed up the iOS download charts. Chinese social media feeds quickly became filled with ZAO-produced videos from friends and contacts for many users.
The premise of the app is pretty simple: take a selfie and put yourself into your favorite movie or soap opera (chosen from a pre-selected list of clips). Cue users giving themselves starring roles in Leonardo DiCaprio’s filmography or uninvited guest appearances on Game of Thrones.
When Christian Bale was cast as Patrick Bateman, the obsessive yet vacuous investment banker and serial killer prowling 1980s Manhattan, he searched for inspiration. He found a Tom Cruise interview, as related by director Mary Harron: "We talked about how Martian-like Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave. And then one day he called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy."
Now you can watch Tom Cruise play the role, deepfaked over Bale and dubbed by Evan Ferrante. It's so convincing, not just in the technical aspects of the deepfake but the plain fact of Cruise's obvious appropropriateness to the role. There's a petulant, simmering anger that comes naturally to Cruise on screen, an intensity that Bale did not quite fully emulate in his otherwise excellent performance.
It's NSFW throughout, but the second half is the actual "sex" scene; stop the video 45s in to avoid it. Read the rest
We knew it was a matter of time before someone tested Facebook's claim they won't remove so-called 'deepfakes,' aka convincingly real faked videos like that recently viral clip of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, edited to appear 'drunk'. Read the rest
Watching this video is the closest thing to shrooms I've yet experienced online. Not so much in the content, but rather the way hallucinatory changes to reality outpace your conscious awareness of them by uncanny moments.
(It's a Bill Hader impression of Arnie where they deepfake him to look like Arnie in precise proportion to the waxing and waning effort put into the impression) Read the rest
Late last year, a redditor called Deepfakes gained notoriety for the extremely convincing face-swap porn videos he was making, in which the faces of mainstream Hollywood actors and rockstars were convincingly overlaid on the bodies of performers in pornography.
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