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A Popular Face Swap App is Advertising Nonconsensual Deepfakes on Porn Sites

How can porn sites claim they don’t tolerate nonconsensual content when they profit from advertisements of deepfakes software?

By November 15, 2022No Comments

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Have you ever wanted to see actor Nicholas Cage in a move you know he wasn’t in, your teacher dancing, or your very own face on Shaq’s 7’1” body? According to an app on the Google Play and Apple App stores called “FaceMagic,” that’s all too easy to do.

The app gives users step-by-step instructions alongside a video of how those users can swap faces in photos, videos, and GIFs.

Sounds like a fun and harmless way to pass the time, right?

Related: 7 Things You Can Do If You’re a Victim of Deepfakes or Revenge Porn

Well, yes, and no. If you just want to show your dad’s face on moonwalking Michael Jackson’s body, that’s one thing. But more harmfully, porn tube sites are advertising FaceMagic to “Make AI Face porn in a sec.”

In other words, the app allows for the seamless creation of deepfakes, where anyone’s face can be mapped onto an explicit photo of another—and that’s a big problem.

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What is “deepfakes” porn?

Before we get into more details regarding how FaceMagic is doing this and why it’s such an issue, a little more background is necessary.

Deepfakes porn uses the latest—and totally easy to use—automated intelligence technology to graft the faces of non-consenting people onto pre-existing explicit material in order to create fake porn images, videos, and GIFs.

Related: The Internet’s Most Hated Man, the “King of Revenge Porn”

The result?

Extremely real looking explicit content that depicts very graphic acts of someone without the consent of the person being portrayed.

How is FaceMagic marketing itself on regular app stores and porn sites?

Google and Apple app stores have loads of rules and regulations around the types of apps available to the public.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the company “carefully” reviews each app and is clear about the fact that it doesn’t want porn in its app store. So, if FaceMagic is helping create not just porn, but nonconsensual porn, how is it being permitted in the app store?

Related: 5 Things You Can Do If You’re Being Sextorted

Well, FaceMagic exploits a loophole in Google and Apple’s app store policies. The app doesn’t violate any of the rules in the app store pages or official site because it does not “expressly create and share porn. Instead, it just gives people a tool that can be used to create it and advertises that ability on porn sites.

What makes deepfakes porn so harmful?

Adam Dodge, the founder of online harassment victim service EndTAB, said that advertising sexually explicit deepfake capabilities on widely popular porn sites “absolutely” escalates the potential for harm.

Why?

Because deepfake ads “[chip] away at the remaining barriers we rely on to keep nonconsensual deepfake porn from becoming mainstream” and “targeted marketing like this simultaneously removes the need for users to spend time searching for an app or developing the expertise to create a deepfake.”

Related: Google Takes Steps to Suppress Search Results for Revenge Porn and Protect Survivors

In other words, Dodge is worried that porn will go from toxic to even more dangerous by making nonconsensual sexual imagery even more mainstream. While some porn is already nonconsensual, viewers have no way to tell and apps like FaceMagic would simply increase the prevalence of this type of porn.

Clearly, FaceMagic isn’t some random app that a friend shared with his family and two best friends. FaceMagic has more than a million downloads in the Google Play and Apple app stores with tens of thousands of reviews, and active ads on at least four porn sites.

Related: 15 Surprising Facts about How Common Revenge Porn Is

Moreover, according to Vice’s report, the app can produce a relatively high quality deepfake porn video in a matter of seconds after paying the monthly $10 fee. After paying, all the user has to do is upload an image of a person they want to put into a porn video and the porn video itself.

Adding to the concern is the fact that the quality of the technology just “keeps getting better,” says image forensics expert and professor at University of California, Berkeley, Hany Farid. “They’re higher resolution, fewer glitches. And it exploded on the adult pornography scene, more so than anywhere else.”

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Can we do anything to stop the technology from being used for non-consensual porn?

There are a couple of options to combat this app and exploitative technology like it. Google and Apple could theoretically force apps like FaceMagic to stop advertising on porn sites or risk being banned. FaceMagic could also incorporate software that stops the upload and edit of inappropriate content.

For example, Reface, another popular face-swapping app that has been used to create deepfakes, has implemented an explicit-content blocker that leads to an error message: “Possible inappropriate content detected. Please be aware that we restrict inappropriate content to protect our community.”

Related: 3 Leaked Celebrity Sex Tapes You Didn’t Know Were Actually Revenge Porn

However, these solutions are far from perfect and still leave much room for users finding loopholes.

Why this matters

Many porn sites claim to have restrictions against nonconsensual content, but explicit deepfakes are, by definition, nonconsensual porn. Even if nonconsensual content is stated to not be permitted in porn sites’ terms and conditions, they are clearly doing very little to combat the spread of deepfakes porn.

On many popular, mainstream porn sites, there is reportedly advertising for popular face-swap apps. As reports describe, these deepfake apps make it easier than ever for anyone to create exploitative, abusive images with just a few clicks.

Related: This U.S. Bill Could Make Sharing “Revenge Porn” a Federal Crime

How can porn sites claim they don’t tolerate nonconsensual content when they clearly profit from the upload of deepfakes videos themselves, and from advertisements of deepfakes software?

If you have been victimized by nonconsensual images, there are things you can do to fight back. Read more, here.

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