Hundreds of sex ads using deepfakes were posted on social media

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

A massive ad campaign launched this week by a deepfake app featured the faces of actresses Emma Watson and Scarlett Johansson.

The ads, which ran on the Meta Facebook and Instagram platforms, featured a scantily clad woman with Emma Watson’s face digitally imposed on her, as the woman began to perform what appeared to be a sexual act.

Many of the ads included captions like “Replace face with anyone” and “Have fun with AI face changing technology.”

Over the course of Sunday and Monday, the Deepfake FaceSwap app launched more than 230 ads in total, 127 featuring Watson’s likeness and 74 featuring Johansson’s face, NBC News reports.

Lauren Barton, a journalism student in Tennessee, tweeted a screen recording of the ad when she saw it on a separate app. Her tweet has received more than 12 million views.

“This could be used with high school students in public schools who are bullied,” Barton said. “You could ruin someone’s life, you could get into trouble at work. And this is extremely easy to do and for free.”

After NBC News tried to reach out to Meta for comment, they removed all ads for the app from their platforms.

“Our policies prohibit adult content, regardless of whether it is AI-generated or not, and we have restricted this page from advertising on our platform,” Meta said in a statement.

Apple also removed the app from its App Store after NBC News contacted it, but it remains available through Google Play, where it’s listed as “Teen” for “suggestive themes.”

The incident is an example of how relatively new deepfake technology is already being distributed to the public through easily accessible channels.

While there are strict laws in every state regarding the sharing of sexually explicit photos and videos, only California, Georgia, New York, and Virginia currently have laws restricting fake media.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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