Chinese Deepfake App Zao Goes Viral And People Are Freaking Out

A new app rocketed to the top of the Chinese Apple App Store charts over the weekend called Zao. The app launched in China on Friday and allows users to swap their faces with film or TV characters very easily. The app required users to submit a series of selfies to the app where the user blinks, moves their mouth, and makes facial expressions.

zao app store

The app then uses the selfies submitted to realistically morph the person's animated likeness on to popular characters in movies, TV, and other content. The deepfake tech is so good at putting faces onto the bodies of other people that some have been concerned about the potential for misuse.

Some who downloaded the app were also very critical of the original privacy policy for the app where the app maker stated that it had "free, irrevocable, permanent, transferable, and relicensable" rights to all user generated content." That would have allowed the makers of the app to use the selfies and videos that the users created for anything it wanted.

After the privacy uproar and a rash of bad reviews, Zao updated its app to say that it will not use the selfies or videos uploaded by users other than to improve the app. Zao has promised to change its policy, stating that it "understands" the concerns about privacy. The company promised to "fix the issues that we didn't take into consideration." It did note that making the fixes would "take some time."

Zao has said that when content uploaded by users is deleted that it will remove the content from its servers. Deepfakes such as those made by the Zao app have been a big concern for users over the potential for misuse. A deepfake app called deepnudeapp was able to disrobe women and was incredibly popular before the people behind the app killed it off, stating they didn't want to make money that way.

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