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Deep fake technology could appear on platforms like TikTok

Could deep fakes soon be coming to TikTok? (Getty Images)

Until now, a convincingly edited fake video, also known as a deep fake, took quite a bit of time and skilled engineering to create.

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But now there’s a way to make your own deep fakes easily, using an app. The technology comes from ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the popular video creation and social media platform TikTok.

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross spoke to Josh Constine, editor-at-large at TechCrunch, who first reported the story.

“A tipster sent me some information showing that buried in the Android version of the Chinese and American versions of TikTok, there was code that could be used to activate this feature,” Constine told Seattle’s Morning News. “And in the Chinese version, it was actually far enough along that these researchers were able to activate this feature and try it out.”

The technology in the app relies on a biometric scan of your face. This is the same tech that helps you unlock your iPhone by looking at it.

As of now, ByteDance hasn’t made the deep fake feature available to the public. The company told TechCrunch they have no plans to launch the feature in the U.S.

“The company hasn’t shown that it’s doing anything especially nefarious with this kind of data quite yet, but there are concerns,” Constine said.

That’s because ByteDance works closely with the Chinese government. In the Chinese version of TikTok, they’ve censored videos of political protests in the past.

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“The question really is … do we want to trust this to a company that the U.S. government has no control over?” Constine said.

There are a few fail safes built into the code. A watermark, for example, identifies that the video originated on the app. And there is a limited library of videos you can play with and share.

But deep fake technology has developed more quickly and convincingly than most people could have predicted.

“It’s no longer that if you see a video of somebody saying something, that you can truly believe it’s them,” Constine said. “And that has huge implications for how we deal with misinformation around elections or politics, but also how we deal with our personal relationships.”

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