Face swapping applications seem to be all the rage at the moment. On the surface, it seems to be a lot of fun. Have you ever wished to see your face portrayed in a film? Now you can! Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the lead vocalist of your favorite band? You can accomplish the same thing with the assistance of the best deepfake applications, which enable effortless face swapping.
Face swapping has a plethora of applications, particularly in the entertainment sector. However, it is not all frolic and frivolity. There is a significant risk of technology being misused, especially in the context of cyberbullying and deep-fake pornography. In an age of so-called “fake news,” you should never accept anything you read online at face value—quite literally, in the case of deepfakes. Additionally, developers of deepfake applications have enormous control over the vast amounts of personal data supplied by users, creating significant privacy issues.
How does deepfake technology work?
Deepfake technology produces high-quality visual and audio output by combining artificial intelligence and machine learning. This often entails giving a computer hundreds, if not thousands, of pictures or audio samples to train it to generate realistic models. On a consumer level, the most frequent use is in deepfake applications for smartphones, which take a user’s facial characteristics and either superimpose their face onto another head or superimpose another face onto their own.
Top deepfake apps
By and large, each developer on this list promises to gather only the information necessary for the proper operation of their individual applications. After it has been processed, user-provided data is said to be destroyed. Nor are they utilized to train machine-learning algorithms for purposes unrelated to the applications’ functionality. Whether or not this is accurate, since there is presently no formal regulatory supervision for monitoring deepfake applications, needs to be seen. Consider the following six popular deepfake applications and some of the major issues surrounding their use of personal data before installing them.
FaceApp, perhaps the most well-known software on our list, is a massively popular picture and video editing app by Wireless Lab that creates incredibly realistic changes to human faces. Since its launch in 2016, the app has gradually gained popularity, accumulating over half a billion downloads. The ability to gender swap, age, or de-age a user’s pictures is among its most popular features.
Considered to be China’s response to FaceApp, Zao has many of the same features as FaceApp—and many of the same problems. Zao was founded by a subsidiary of Chinese technology firm Momo, which specializes in the development of social and dating applications. Zao’s primary feature enables users to submit pictures and utilize its AI engine to swap their looks with those of celebrities in a selection of video clips.
Zao raced to the top of the rankings as one of the most popular deepfake applications on the Apple App Store upon its debut in August 2019. Soon thereafter, Zao’s user agreement came under fire for granting Momo complete and permanent rights to repurpose user-generated material in any manner it pleased. This went down about as well with users as you would expect. Surprisingly, the debate gathered enough momentum that Chinese official media expressed their own reservations about the privacy problem.
Initially launched as Doublicat in January 2020 by Ukrainian developer Neocortext, the software was renamed Reface shortly afterward. It has rapidly risen to prominence as one of the most popular deepfake applications on Google Play and the Apple App Store in over a hundred countries. Reface makes use of GAN AI technology to perform gender swaps and face swaps using user-supplied images and live video input.
Reface has faced backlash over a section of its terms of service that states that using the app grants Neocortext a “perpetual license to create derivative works from, exhibit, broadcast, publicly perform, and publicly display the Generated content in any form and through any and all media or distribution methods.” According to Reface, all photos submitted by users will be erased within an hour from Google Cloud.
As the name implies, Avatarify breathes life into your submitted picture. The AI engine behind Avatarify enables users to transform their pictures into singing portraits, cartoons, or famous videos. Additionally, animated images of dogs are possible.
The program, which launched in July 2020, grew in popularity when Avatarify videos went viral on TikTok and Douyin, China’s equivalent of TikTok. However, Apple withdrew Avatarify from its China app store in early 2021 because of privacy concerns.
Released in February 2021 and dubbed “the world’s best AI-powered lip-sync app” by its creators, Wombo Studios, another popular app is Wombo, which enables users to convert their photos into singing portraits. The app has a selection of popular songs from which users may pick. In contrast to the other items on this list, Wombo’s privacy statement says that the company has no intention of repurposing user-generated content and that all submitted images are destroyed immediately after processing.
Voilà AI Artist
And now for something really unique. Wemagine is the developer. Voilà AI Artist is a deepfake software that transforms users’ faces into 3D cartoons, hand-drawn caricatures, and even Renaissance-era paintings. As with the other deepfake applications on this list, Voilà AI Artist asserts that it would destroy any pictures submitted by users after a short period of time—in this instance, between 24 and 48 hours.
Surprisingly—or maybe not—the Wemagine.AI terms of service say exactly what Reface’s terms of service state about user-generated content. To be precise, “perpetual license to create derivative works from, exhibit, broadcast, publicly perform, and publicly display the generated content in any form and through any and all media or distribution methods.” Perhaps this is standard legalese? Perhaps this demonstrates that privacy is a secondary concern? It definitely adds gasoline to the debate around users’ data privacy and the need for consumers to exercise extreme caution when sharing pictures with applications and internet services.