By Arré Bench Oct. 23, 2020
Deepfakes have contributed to a rise in revenge porn. Now, on the messaging app Telegram, a network of bots has been engaged in creating nudes of unsuspecting female social media users, often at the request of other users on Telegram. Some of the victims of these bots were reported to be underage as well.
There are times when the speedy progress of technology can become frightening. When it comes to the arrival of deepfakes, this is indeed the case. Deepfakes refers to AI-generated images that use software to create false photos or videos featuring real people. Deepfakes have contributed to a rise in revenge porn, except in these instances the victim has never actually posed for the explicit photos; instead, the AI has generated the image based off pre-existing photos of the victim. On the messaging app Telegram, a network of bots has been engaged in creating nudes of unsuspecting female social media users, often at the request of other users on Telegram.
Telegram's deepfake bots create fake nudes on user request, demand money
— IndiaTodayTech (@IndiaTodayTech) October 21, 2020
Sensity, a cyber-security firm also that tracks deepfake image manipulation, found a large network of deepfake channels on Telegram. These bots, which Sensity said mostly operate out of Russia and other neighbouring countries, use the banned DeepNudes software and its derivatives to create nudes from images submitted by users. Reportedly, the nudes are watermarked and partially covered for users using the bot for free, while a subscription fee will allow users to access complete nudes without watermarks. Some of the victims of these bots were reported to be underage as well.
Today we go public with the findings of a new investigation: early this year we uncovered a new deepfake bot on Telegram, an evolution of the infamous DeepNude from 2019, which "undressed" at least 100.000 women without their knowledge.https://t.co/JLhDtfo7jq pic.twitter.com/gjMIZ2CzV1
— Sensity (@sensityai) October 20, 2020
Though the deepfakes ecosystem exists worldwide, the Bombay High Court has taken notice of the trade in illegal and fake photos on Telegram. The court requested the central government’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting look into the reports of Telegram’s deepfakes bots creating nudes of unwilling and unsuspecting women.
Bombay High Court seeks details on Telegram deepfake bots that create nude photos of women pic.twitter.com/DmgDaCQIBM
— The Youth Magazine (@theyouthmag_) October 23, 2020
With every new advancement in technology comes the potential for its misuse. The peddlers of illicit pornography on Telegram have shown how the deepfakes technology is not only being misused, but abused. In the wrong hands, the ability to create a convincing image of a person in any situation becomes highly dangerous, and the Bombay HC’s inquiry into actions taken to prevent such misdeeds is timely indeed.