With digital advancements growing at an alarming rate, social media users may have reason to worry. More specifically, Snapchat and TikTok enthusiasts should be wary of a modern development that allows users to overlay someone else’s face onto an existing picture. More commonly known as deepfakes, this startling usage of editing software is notorious for sparking outrage. Not only does it incriminate an unsuspecting victim, but it also makes it exponentially more challenging to discern fact from fiction in a time that yearns for transparency.
With that said, it’s particularly upsetting that Snapchat and TikTok are adopting technology that promotes this blatant form of dishonesty. With Snapchat’s recent acquisition of AI Factory, Snap users have easier access to this feature. Fortunately, the results are more cartoonish and don’t bear a striking resemblance to real life. Even still, Snapchat’s endorsement of this feature doesn’t bode well for safe social media usage. Meanwhile, TikTok is catching considerable flak for hopping on the bandwagon with obvious enthusiasm.
According to TechCrunch, TikTok authorities are developing a deepfake-inspired tool that makes this fraudulent content seamless. For the sake of accuracy, TikTok asks users to take multiple photos so that their face will fit perfectly into their desired template. TikTok’s feature is so advanced that it even works on video footage. Many have likened TikTok’s new tool to ZAO, a Chinese face-swapping application. Given China’s intrusive surveillance measures, this reality could grow grim rather rapidly.
Of the two, TikTok is undoubtedly the worst offender. Funnily enough, TikTok has denied that they will be introducing this technology to their platform. When ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, was asked to address the situation, they stated that deepfake technology is “definitely not a function in TikTok.” As an attempt to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing, TikTok executives suggested that the media is confusing them with Douyin, which is the Chinese version of TikTok.
TechCrunch maintains that “documentation for the feature” is available on TikTok. In other words, it will soon be unveiled. In the meantime, it appears that only Chinese users have access to the tool. This news is most troubling for Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Together, these corporate giants are working to pinpoint deepfakes to avoid misinterpretation and confusion. With TikTok and Snapchat making their efforts even more difficult, it’s unclear where allegiances lay. Only time will tell if the deepfake trend will take these beloved applications by storm.