- Reuploaded replicas of the app DeepNude have been popping up on social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube, and Reddit.
- The app, which removed clothing from pictures of women to make them look naked, had previously been removed by its creator after an article published by Vice’s technology publication Motherboard created backlash.
- Discord and GitHub have since banned replica versions of the app after it was spread on their sites.
- Over the last week, dozens of women in Singapore have had pictures from their social media accounts doctored and put on porn websites. Those pictures are believed to have been made with a version of the DeepNude App.
DeepNude App Explained
The open source software platform GitHub has banned all code from the controversial deepfake app known as DeepNude, a desktop application that removes clothing from pictures of women and generates a new photo of them appearing naked.
The app was originally released last month, but it did not receive notoriety until Vice’s tech publication Motherboard broke the story several days after it launched. The day after Motherboard’s exposé, the DeepNude creators announced they were pulling the app.
“The probability that people will misuse it is too high,” the creators said in a statement on Twitter. “Surely some copies of DeepNude will be shared on the web, but we don’t want to be the ones who sell it.”
“The world is not yet ready for DeepNude,” the statement concluded.
GritHub Bans DeepNude Replicas
Apparently, the world thought otherwise, because copies of the DeepNude app were shared and still are being shared all over the internet.
The program was an app that was meant to be downloaded for use offline, and as a result, it could be easily replicated by anyone who had it on their hard drive.
That is exactly what happened. People who replicated the software reuploaded it on various social media platforms, like GitHub, which banned the app for violating its community guidelines.
“We do not proactively monitor user-generated content, but we do actively investigate abuse reports,” a GitHub spokesperson told Motherboard. “In this case, we disabled the project because we found it to be in violation of our acceptable use policy. We do not condone using GitHub for posting sexually obscene content and prohibit such conduct in our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines.”
According to The Verge, the DeepNude team itself actually uploaded the core algorithm of the app to GitHub.
“The reverse engineering of the app was already on GitHub. It no longer makes sense to hide the source code,” The Verge said the team wrote on a now-deleted page. “DeepNude uses an interesting method to solve a typical AI problem, so it could be useful for researchers and developers working in other fields such as fashion, cinema, and visual effects.”
However, Rogue Rocket was still able to find at least one GitHub repository that claimed to have DeepNude software for Android.
“Deep nudes for android. this is the age of FREEDOM, NOT CENSORSHIP! hackers rule the future!” the page’s description said.
GitHub was not the only platform that the replicated app was shared on.
Even with just a cursory search on Twitter, Rogue Rocket was able to locate two Twitter accounts that provided links to replicated versions of the app. One of the accounts links to a website called Deep Nude Pro, which bills itself as “the official update to the original DeepNude,” and sells the app for $39.99.
The other account links to a DeepNude Patreon where people can either download the app or send the account holder pictures they want to generate and then buy.
When Rogue Rocket searched YouTube, there appeared to be multiple videos explaining how to download new versions of the app, many of which had links to download the app in the description.
Others have also shared links on Reddit, and The Verge reported that links to downloads were being shared on Telegram channels and message boards like 4chan.
To make matters even worse, a lot of the replicated software includes versions that claim they removed the watermarks included in the original app, which were used to denote that the generated pictures were fake.
While it has been reported that a lot of the links to the reuploaded software are malware, download links to the new versions are still incredibly easy to find.
GitHub is also not the only platform to ban the app. According to Motherboard, last week Discord banned a server that was selling what was described as an updated version of the app, where customers could pay $20 in Bitcoin or Amazon gift cards to get “lifetime access.”
The server and its users were removed for violating Discord’s community guidelines.
“The sharing of non-consensual pornography is explicitly prohibited in our terms of service and community guidelines,” a spokesperson for Discord told Motherboard in a statement.
“We will investigate and take immediate action against any reported terms of service violation by a server or user. Non-consensual pornography warrants an instant shut down on the servers and ban of the users whenever we identify it, which is the action we took in this case.”
DeepNude App Used in Singapore
The rapid diffusion of the app on numerous social media platforms has now become an international problem.
On Wednesday, The Straits Times reported that over the past week “dozens of women in Singapore” have had pictures of them taken from their social media accounts and doctored to look like they are naked, then uploaded to pornographic sites.
Those photos are believed to have been doctored using a version of the DeepNude app, which have been shared via download links on a popular sex forum in Singapore.
Lawyers who spoke to The Straits Times told them that doctoring photos to make people look naked is considered a criminal offense in Singapore.
Even though the artificial intelligence aspect is new, one lawyer said that the broad definitions under the law could allow people to be prosecuted for doing so.
Another lawyer backed that up, saying that under Singapore’s Films Act, people who make DeepNude pictures can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $40,000. They can also be charged with insult of modesty and face a separate fine and jail term of up to a year.
Legal Efforts in the U.S.
The legal precedent in Singapore raises questions about laws that regulate deepfakes in the United States. While these efforts appear stalled on the federal level, several states have taken actions to address the issue.
On July 1, a new amendment to Virginia’s law against revenge porn, that includes deepfakes as nonconsensual pornography, went into effect. Under that amendment, anyone caught spreading deepfakes could face 12 months in prison and up to $2,500 in fines.
The idea of amending existing revenge porn laws to include deepfakes could be promising if it is effective. According to The New York Times, as of early this year, 41 states have banned revenge porn.
At the same time, lawmakers in New York state have also proposed a bill that would ban the creation of “digital replicas” of individuals without their consent.
However, the Motion Picture Association of America has opposed the bill, arguing that it would “restrict the ability of our members to tell stories about and inspired by real people and events,” which would violate the First Amendment.
The opposition to the law in New York indicates that even as states take the lead with deepfake regulation, there are still many legal hurdles to overcome.
See what others are saying: (VICE) (The Verge) (The Strait Times)
Target Joins Walmart in Offering Free College Tuition To Attract and Retain Workers
The decision makes Target the latest major company to dangle such incentives before employees, joining the likes of Walmart, Chipotle, and Starbucks.
Target Launches Debt-Free Education Asssitance Program
Target announced new employee perks on Wednesday that it likely hopes will help attract and retain workers.
Starting this fall, Target will cover the cost of tuition, fees, and textbooks for both part-time and full-time workers who pursue degrees or certificates at more than 40 participating institutions.
Employees will have at least 250 different business-aligned programs to choose from, including Business, Computer Science, Design, and more.
Target will also fund advanced degrees, paying up to $10,000 each year for master’s programs at those schools, and it’s offering up to 5,250 for those pursuing non-master’s degrees or business-aligned programs at one of the select schools.
The company said it plans to invest a total of $200 million in the education program over the next four years, and employees in the U.S. will qualify as soon as their first day.
“Target employs team members at every life stage and helps our team learn, develop and build their skills, whether they’re with us for a year or a career. A significant number of our hourly team members build their careers at Target, and we know many would like to pursue additional education opportunities. We don’t want the cost to be a barrier for anyone, and that’s where Target can step in to make education accessible for everyone,” said Melissa Kremer, Target’s Chief Human Resources Officer.
Companies With Similar Perks
Places like Chipotle and Starbucks have already had similar education programs in place, but more companies have been introducing or expanding on similar policies as businesses across the country struggle to find and retain workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Just last week, Walmart announced that it will cover the full cost of college tuition and books for itsemployees, after previously requiring them to pay $1 a day for the assistance. Those workers can now select from around 10 academic partners.
While many have applauded these actions from big corporations, others have noted that it makes it tougher for smaller businesses to compete since they don’t have the same resources at their disposal.
There is some concern about how this could change the business landscape in the future as a handful of large companies dominate in their own sectors and siphon a lot of the talent, forcing smaller competitors to close. Still, others argue that this was already happening. At least now, the big players are investing and support their workforce while doing it.
Tencent Stock Plummet as Company Weighs Video Games Ban for Kids in China
The world’s largest game developer appears fearful that the Chinese government will launch another crackdown on gaming similar to one it launched in 2019 when it limited game time for minors.
No More Video Games
Tencent Holdings, Ltd. — China’s most valuable corporation and the world’s largest gaming company — announced Tuesday that it would consider completely banning games for those under 12-years-old in China.
Tencent also announced that it will now limit playtime for Chinese minors to just 1 hour during weekdays and no more than 2 hours during weekends and holidays. Under a Chinese law set up in 2019, game developers are required to limit minors to just 1 hour and 30 minutes of playtime during weekdays and 3 hours during weekends and holidays.
Additionally, the company explained that it will move forward with plans to enact systems that bar those under 12 from engaging in microtransactions, starting with the largest mobile game, “Honor of Kings” (王者荣耀). It’s possible the ban will extend to some of Tencent’s other holdings, such as “League of Legends” (Riot Games) and “Path of Exile” (Grinding Gear Games), although these changes will likely only affect Chinese users.
Tencent’s decision comes just a day after the Economic Information Daily, a subsidiary of state media giant Xinhua News, said in a now-deleted article that video games were “spiritual opium” and that no industry should continue in a manner that will “destroy a generation.”
Likening video games to opium holds cultural significance in China, which has long disliked narcotics and is sensitive to comparisons to the drug. Using such language, especially by state media, is often seen as a sign that the government is ready to crack down on the industry.
Those fears largely played out over a 24-hour period as shares for Tencent and NetEase, another large game developer in China, plummeted. Tencent’s shares dropped by 11% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, although it eventually settled at just a 6% loss by the end of Tuesday.
It wasn’t just Chinese gaming companies that were worried. The announcement sent ripples across the entire industry as Nintendo, Capcom, and Nexon shares all were heavily affected as well. One of the reasons that such an article can cast widespread concern is that China has increasingly become the largest market in the $180 billion video game industry, making it larger than the global movie industry and North American professional sports, combined.
Coupled with the recent fall of ActivisionBlizzard’s stock over the last two weeks due to its sexual assault lawsuit and other industry shakeups, over a trillion dollars of market value was wiped out at one point on Tuesday.
See what others are saying: (Associated Press) (Time) (Fox Business)
Google Is Banning “Sugar Dating” Apps as Part of New Sexual Content Restrictions
The change essentially targets apps like Elite Millionaire Singles, SeekingArrangements, Spoil, and tons of other sugar dating platforms.
Sugar Dating Crackdown
Google has announced a series of policy changes to its Android Play Store that include a ban on sugar dating apps starting September 1.
The company’s Play Store policies already prohibit apps that promote “services that may be interpreted as providing sexual acts in exchange for compensation.”
Now, it has updated its wording to specifically include “compensated dating or sexual arrangements where one participant is expected or implied to provide money, gifts or financial support to another participant (‘sugar dating’).”
The change essentially targets apps like Elite Millionaire Singles, SeekingArrangements, Spoil, and tons of other sugar dating platforms currently available for download.
What Prompted the Change?
The company didn’t explain why it’s going after sugar dating apps, but some reports have noted that the move comes amid crackdowns of online sex work following the introduction of the FOSTA-SESTA legislation in 2018, which was meant to curb sex trafficking.
That’s because FOSTA-SESTA created an exception to Section 230 that means website publishers can be held liable if third parties are found to be promoting prostitution, including consensual sex work, on their platforms.
It’s worth noting that just because the apps will no longer be available on the Play Store doesn’t mean the sugar dating platforms themselves are going anywhere. Sugar daters will still be able to access them through their web browsers, or they can just sideload their apps from other places.
Still, the change is likely going to make the use of these sites a little less convenient.