Controversial face swapp app is restricted by Wechat


A new Chinese face swapping app hit the headlines recently with issues of privacy being cited. The app named Zao works by overlaying the user’s image with images of celebrities using artificial intelligence. The images of celebrities are taken from scenes of popular movies and shows.

The app that is currently only present on China’s iOS App Store was uploaded last Friday. Only a few days in, the app was rated the most downloaded. In order for one to use the app, they are required to sign up using their phone numbers and then upload photos of their faces from their phones to the app.

The questionable privacy policies of the Zao app have since informed WeChat’s decision to limit access to the app on its platform. According to WeChat, users of the app can upload videos or images created via Zao but cannot share invite links. If a user tries to share the Zao link, a message saying “The webpage has been reported multiple times and contains security risks. To maintain a safe online environment, access to this page has been blocked.” Shows.

The app that was developed by a unit that also creates most popular dating apps in China went viral after users widely shared their edited videos and images through China’s social media platforms. The traffic caused by the app on social media however raised alarm to users. Claims about ill use of “deepfake” technology in the terms of use, apparently gave full proprietorship and copyright to content uploaded or created on Zao.

According to a statement posted on the App’s Weibo account, the app management says that it can completely recognize people’s apprehensions regarding to privacy of users of Zao. “We are aware of the issue and we are thinking about how to fix the problems, we need a little time.”

Today, the terms and conditions of the app now say that content generated by users will only be used to help the company to grow the app to greater heights and all content that was deleted will be completely scrapped off the servers.

A lot is at stake with this new app. It could very easily make it seem as though a celebrity was at a certain place doing a certain thing and that could very easily jeopardize ones reputation and even integrity. In a time where most applications and even phones are being accused of breach of privacy, I would like to think it was not the right time to upload this app and most of all for it to spread like wild fire.

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