Deepfake nightmare for women: Ads swap Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson faces on sexually suggestive videos

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadMar 09, 2023 | 10:32

Deepfake nightmare for women: Ads swap Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson faces on sexually suggestive videos

Deepfake brings new nightmares for women. Photo: DailyO

In the past week, several users of Facebook, Instagram and Messenger came across ads for a deepfake app called Facemega. 

Being able to easily use a deepfake app seems fun. After all, we have seen many videos of deepfake Robert Pattinson acting hilariously. 

But the ads for Facemega showed just how sinister the use of deepfake can be, something that the creators of the app didn't even try to hide. 


The ads showed the faces of actors Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson being swapped onto a sexually suggestive video without their consent (obviously) with just a few taps.  

This was initially flagged by a Twitter user:

  • It isn't just the case where celebrity pictures have been deepfaked into pornographic content. 
  • Earlier this month, several popular female Twitch streamers said they felt violated and used after finding out that a fellow male Twitch streamer created pornographic content using their faces without their knowledge or consent. 
  • These videos were later shown on various platforms. 

What is deepfake AI?

Deepfake AI allows users to manipulate the sounds and faces in a video. It's the 21st-century advanced photoshopping method. While initially when it came to mainstream internet in 2017, it was used by a handful of people with advanced tech and video editing skills, now it seems like with apps like Facemega, the technology has become accessible to the layman. 

  • However, the benefits of the AI technology clearly outweigh the dangers, as explicitly shown in the ad campaign whose creators promoted the use of the technology for sinister purposes. 
  • In fact, a 2019 report from DeepTrace, which monitors synthetic media online, found that 96% of deepfake content online is of pornographic nature. 
  • It doesn't take a brainer to know that such an easily available technology can be used to harass and blackmail women, who are already subject to various threats of sexual abuse, revenge porn, etc. 
I don't think people understand how dangerous deepfake is and AI having the ability to catfish people and structure a character that is targeted to sexual content and it always women that are the target. 
- @2wenty4s, Twitter
  • A vengeful ex may make a deepfake porn video of his/her girlfriend or boyfriend. Or someone can use this technology to target rivals. 

Deepfake in politics:

  • It has also been used earlier to fake videos of world leaders. Last year, a deepfake video of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky went viral where he said that Kyiv was surrendering to Russia. 
  • Several such videos have also surfaced of US President Joe Biden. 

  • The technology can be used as a weapon of misinformation during elections by making fake videos of politicians. 

The China connection:

  • While Meta has taken down the ads for Facemega from its platforms, we found another similar ad through Meta ad library targetted at Indians. 
  • Though the ads don't show any sexually explicit content, it can be used for the purpose. 
  • In the case of Facemega, the app was reported to be owned by a Chinese company. We found the Facebook page for Storyvibe, targetting Indians, and it also seems to be owned by a Chinese company. 
Screenshot: Storyvibe/Facebook
  • Interestingly, China rolled out regulations for deepfake which Diplomat says is the most detailed one yet in the world. It prohibits deepfake content without user consent and requires to be identified as generated using AI.
Last updated: March 09, 2023 | 11:50
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