A Telegram channel reactivates a software that has 'undressed' thousands of anonymous women

Technologies

By CAPosts 20 October, 2020 - 09:15am 254 views

A channel in the Telegram messaging application allows you to send a photo of a dressed woman and return it without clothes. The nude image is not real, but it is very credible and is achieved thanks to deepfake , a recent technique based on artificial intelligence that allows different videos and photos to be crossed - as apps that age someone from a photograph do, for example . A little over a year ago the software, called Deepnude, was withdrawn by its creators after a scandal and the media attention. Just over a month later, in July 2019, that software re-emerged on a Telegram channel and continues to be active, according to a report by the visual cybersecurity company Sensity. With more than 100,000 users, the majority in Russia and countries of the Soviet orbit, and hundreds of thousands of photos “processed”, the silent existence of this community is an example of how degrading initiatives mutate and survive on the Internet. “Since we discovered this bot (program that automates repetitive tasks) at the beginning of the year, we have not found anything similar on the Internet again ”, says Giorgio Patrini, founder and CEO of Sensity. "This type of artificial intelligence is replicable and is in fact available on the web, but Telegram allows it to be used as a chat, which is something unique," he adds. The problem with this channel is not so much that it exists as its "accessibility", according to Patrini. "Using this software requires knowing specific hardware and code, but not here: there are no requirements, no technical knowledge, no hardware and it's free," he explains. Telegram has not responded to questions from Sensity about the existence of the channel or its possible withdrawal. However, some of the functions of this channel appear to have been deactivated during the night of Monday, after some journalists contacted their creators before the publication of the report. The use of this community, whose exact name EL PAÍS does not reveal so as not to expand its distribution, has grown by nearly 200% in the last three months. Sensity researchers have been able to trace images of 104,852 women, the vast majority anonymous. This figure is only a part of the total number of images processed by the bot , since most of them are not shared on the main channel but are sent directly to the user who had uploaded them. It is also unclear how many subgroups make up this channel. "Most of the images appear to have been taken from social media pages or private communications, of women who are probably not aware that their photos are going to be used for that purpose," says the report. "While the majority are private individuals, we have identified a significant number of high profile influencers, video game streamers and celebrities," they add. They have also found photos of minors, which would imply the interest of some users in pedophile content. The creators of the Telegram channel offer a free version with a watermark and a paid version with the clean photo and that also avoids the waiting queue for the photo conversion. Payment is made with "virtual currencies" that can be purchased for 100 rubles (about 1.5 euros). Among their messages they advise how to connect from countries where Telegram is restricted or how to deactivate material restrictions for people over 18 years old that some operating systems include. The most common way to publicize the channel is through advertisements on the so-called “Russian Facebook”, VK. Sensity researchers have found 380 VK pages dedicated to deepfakes with functions similar to those offered by the Telegram channel. Despite the dominance of the Russian sphere, Spanish and Latin American users would be the second largest community to use this Telegram bot , according to a survey generated by the users themselves and cited in the Sensity report. The company would also have traced through social networks the photos of anonymous girls that appear on the channel and have found a notable group from Argentina, in addition to Italy, the United States and obviously Russia. In their marketing messages to sell the Telegram tool, the creators make these arguments: “Every tough man over 12 years old has at least three intimate desires: to drive a cool car with a herd of wild horses under the hood, to win a million dollars in the casino and strip some pretty girl sometimes. And if it is not so easy to get the first two points, the third is easy to achieve. You do not believe it?"

The most commonly feared use of deepfake is political: creating a video where a president says or does something terrible that he has not said or done, for example. But the actual use to date is pornographic and female-centered. An October 2019 analysis by Sensity found that 96% of videos created with deepfake techniques on the internet are pornographic. In June 2019 the American website Vice published a story titled: “This horrible application strips a photo of any woman with a single click”. That software, called Deepnude, offered versions of apps on Windows and Linux. It worked only on women and its success was regular: for a good result I needed the photo to be in a swimsuit or with little clothing. According to Patrini, the software behind the Telegram channel is similar: "There is no obvious improvement in image processing functions from the samples collected on the channel," he says. After 500,000 visitors and close to 100,000 downloads, the creators took it down on June 28. They apparently sold a license in July, but it has since been made available in open source repositories. From Sensity they cannot assure that this version of Telegram has a direct relationship with the original creators of Deepnude. Although the use of most of these images is presumably for private consumption, the researchers warn against purposes such as extortion or public embarrassment. You can follow EL PAÍS TECNOLOGÍA RETINA at Facebook , Twitter , Instagram or subscribe here to our Newsletter .

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