Over the past couple of days many Facebook users have had the opportunity to come across an advertisement showing a woman identical to Emma Watson smiling shyly and then leaning towards the camera, giving the impression of initiating a sexual act. But no, the protagonist of the video is not our beloved Hermione Granger. The announcement, in fact, is part of a promotional campaign of an app deepfakes, which allows users to replace the face of the protagonist of a video with any other available to them – just like in the case of Watson’s ad. On the other hand, technology has already been used for some time to create non-consensual pornography with the faces of celebrities, influencers or anyone else, including children. But the campaign on Meta clearly demonstrates that the deepfake is spreading even on consumer applications at the mercy of all – and freely advertised on social platforms.
In fact, between Sunday and Monday, the video editing app DeepFake FaceSwap published over 230 advertisements on Meta services, including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Much of this content showed the same beginning of a porn video, accompanied by the Pornhub audio track. And then, after a few seconds, the faces of famous actresses appear instead of those of the protagonists of the video. Among these, in addition to the aforementioned Emma Watson, there was also Scarlett Johansson. “Replace the face with anyone”, reads the ads promoting the app, suggesting that this really allows you to “replace” a face with any other, even a famous one. A completely illegal manipulation, so much so as to have convinced Meta a remove all ads in yesterday’s day.
Although no sexual acts were shown in the videos, they clearly demonstrate how the application can be used for generate false sexual content. As anticipated, DeepFake FaceSwap allows users to upload videos to manipulate or to choose from pre-set templates, in which it is possible to replace the protagonists’ faces with those of anyone else. The richest category of models is (clearly) the “Hot”, in which videos of naked men and women dancing and posing in front of the camera are collected. Yet the terms of service for the app, which costs $8 a week, say this does not allow users to impersonate others through their services or upload sexually explicit content. Somewhat strange premises for an application that promoted itself through a deepfake ad campaign.