A new Chinese app ‘ZAO’ that lets users swap their faces with celebrities, sports stars or anyone else in a video clip – got millions of downloads this weekend but swiftly drew fire over privacy issues. Critics say that this face-swap app could spread misinformation on a massive scale, which can be a danger to privacy.
This app was released on Friday on China’s iOS app store, and it got viral immediately. According to a post from the app makers on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, ZAO’s servers nearly crashed due to the surge in traffic. According to App Annie, “a firm that tracks app downloads all over the world, ZAO was the most-downloaded free app in China’s iOS App Store as of Sept’ 1.”
About the Makers
ZAO was published by Momo Inc., best known as makers of a dating app that later transformed into a live streaming service. The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.
How this app works!?
Users need to sign-up for ZAO with their phone number and upload images of their faces, using photographs taken with their smartphone. After that, they can choose from a range of videos of celebrities on which to superimpose their faces and share the videos with their friends.
In addition to Chinese celebrities, the app also features some famous faces which include Leonardo DiCaprio and Marilyn Monroe.
What’s the problem?
One section of the user agreement stated that consumers who upload their images to ZAO agree to surrender the intellectual property rights to their face, and permit ZAO to use their images for marketing purposes.