FakeApp is a new application that can create AI generated material such as accurate facial reconstructions and then apply them to a video or other moving image.
Whilst Adobe’s Photoshop and other programmes have been able to produce fake, yet extremely convincing still images for years, the realistic doctoring of moving images has been limited to those with a phenomenal budget or professional CGI teams – until now.
In simple terms, FakeApp works by using thousands of images and videos of the person’s face a user is trying to fake, in order to build an AI generated model that can then be applied to a video of the user’s choice. FakeApp’s creator, an anonymous Reddit user, says “FakeApp is a desktop tool for creating DeepFakes”
DeepFakes is the term used by its community for the resulting edited videos.The /r/DeepFakes Reddit page (NSFW) is regularly updated by the creator of FakeApp with new content for the application and updates on the future of the software. On 2nd February, the creator claimed that the application would now produce a DeepFake with just “one click” after inputting the source material; a few days prior it was announced that the application had been downloaded over 100,000 times.
Some of DeepFakes content is created for comedic purposes – when FakeApp was made available in January 2018, a spout of videos surfaced online replacing characters from popular films with the legendary Nicholas Cage; one even replaces Cris Crocker in the 2007 viral video “Leave Britney Alone” with the Hollywood star.
US President Donald Trump has also received the DeepFake treatment, with his face being transferred to the body of Dr Evil from the Austin Powers films. Whilst President Trump would likely shrug such images off as “DeepFake news”, and the appearance of Nicholas Cage in all of your favourite films is clearly jovial, the realism of some of the videos is quite incredible – which is where a problem arises.
Unsurprisingly, due to the internet’s apparent obsession with celebrity porn, FakeApp has also been used to create DeepFakes where the faces of celebrities are mapped onto the bodies of performing porn-stars. A large number of celebrities, mostly female, have had DeepFakes created, including pop stars Arianna Grande and Taylor Swift, and film-stars Emma Watson, Natalie Portman, and Daisy Ridley.Whilst the quality of the application of the celebrity’s face varies, the right body shape and skin tone can make some pornographic DeepFakes incredibly convincing. Currently, the process of creating a five minute video on FakeApp can take hours if not days, but as the software becomes more popular, that time will surely decrease.
Whilst there are currently no laws prohibiting the production and sharing of such videos as the vast availability of such software is so new, Pornhub (a porn site who registered 50,000 searches per minute in 2017) has said that it will be actively removing DeepFakes as they are “non-consensual”.
In a statement to Motherboard, Pornhub said “We do not tolerate any non-consensual content on the site and we remove all said content as soon as we are made aware of it.” Pornhub went on to clarify that DeepFake videos will be treated the same as revenge porn.
Other websites, including Gfycat and Twitter, who usually allow hardcore pornographic material on their platforms, have also said they will remove DeepFake content as the videos breach their terms of service agreements.
Aside from the clear immorality of creating a pornographic video depicting a person who has never consented to being in such material, the widespread creation of DeepFakes, and the use of FakeApp could set a worrying precedent for the future of such computer technology.
As if the internet wasn’t already constantly awash with hoaxes and full of people ready to believe them, in a few years time there is the possibility of not being able to distinguish between what is legitimate video evidence and what is a DeepFake.
As the progression of the software to an automated “one-click” system took only a month, the possibilities of FakeApp are ominously endless. Videos could be created that deceive governments and cause conflicts and innocent people could be accused of illegal acts.
To put it briefly – fake news could be about to get a whole lot more convincing.
Featured image via Anonymous user on Reddit.