About Face: Revenge porn isn’t the only danger


Revenge porn, as most know, is the misuse of private photos and videos to embarrass or shame people publicly.  Distributing personal nude photos and sexual videos without permission is a horrible invasion of privacy (because many societies and countries are still uptight about the human body).  But what happens if people can create fake photos and videos and distribute them as revenge porn?

The “deepfake” app Zao allows people to realistically photoshop their faces onto the bodies of celebrities.  But that’s voluntary – the same could be involuntarily, unethical people placing other people’s faces onto images from porpography.  Who needs to steal privately filmed porn when you can create fake porn and humiliate people?  The company that makes the software has a questionable “terms of use” clause that might let them use people’s pictures in perpetuity – including people whose photos were submitted without their consent.

More below the fold.

Viral Chinese deepfake app Zao lets people superimpose their faces onto celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and it is terrifyingly convincing

China’s iPhone users have found a new craze — a new app called Zao which lets people convincingly and hilariously transpose their faces onto actors like Leonardo DiCaprio, Kit Harrington from “Game of Thrones”, and many others.

Zao topped the Chinese iOS download chart over the weekend after first launching on the App Store on Friday. As of Monday, Zao remains top of China’s App Store, according to App Annie. It isn’t currently available to anyone without a Chinese phone number, and isn’t listed on the UK or US App Store or Play Store.

Created by Chinese developer MoMo, the app allows users to deepfake their faces onto a huge range of actors, singers, and even video game characters. Users can upload even just a single image of their face and the app will automatically map it onto selected video clips for them. The results are surprisingly convincing and unexpected.

This isn’t the only potential misuse of illicitly taken pictures.  Philadelphia news anchor Karen Hepp’s image was obtained from closed circuit video filmed inside businesses, and then used in advertising of sexual content without her permission.  Anyone’s photos online or face photographed in public places could be misused this way, and the platforms they are used on not held accountable nor forced to expose those who did it.  Victims are forced to track down the abusers, and those with few no resources (unlike Hepp) won’t be able to do much.

News anchor sues Facebook and Reddit after a convenience store creepshot showed up in dating ads

A Philadelphia news anchor has sued Facebook, Reddit, and other web platforms after a convenience store photo started showing up in dating and erectile dysfunction ads. Karen Hepp, who works for Fox 29 News, filed the suit earlier this week. She alleges that the sites violated her right of publicity and damaged her reputation with “abhorrent and disgusting” uses of the picture.

Hepp’s lawsuit names Facebook, Reddit, the image repository Imgur, the animated GIF site Giphy, and the porn site XNXX, alongside 10 other operators of unnamed sites. She writes that approximately two years ago, she discovered that a convenience store security camera photo of her had appeared online in some unwanted contexts. That included a Facebook ad promising meetups with “single women,” an unspecified ad for erectile dysfunction, a Reddit forum for sexualized pictures of older women, and the “MILF” tag on Imgur.

The lawsuit asks these sites to take down any copies of her photograph and to compensate her for their profits and the damage to her reputation. That could prove a difficult request, since under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, sites generally aren’t responsible for content that’s posted by users. The post on Reddit, for example, seems clearly user-generated. So Hepp could sue the person who posted it, but she couldn’t extend that liability to Reddit. If the operators of a site like XNXX collected and posted her photo themselves, there’s a better chance of taking them to court.

I had no photos of myself until I transitioned other than for use in ID (e.g. driver’s licenses, passports), but have posted hundreds publicly in the last five years.  I have to wonder if TERF trash, Transphobes, smokers and others would misuse my face for illicit “revenge” images and video.

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