A new Chinese app that lets people swap faces with celebrities is updating its policies after a backlash from users concerned about their privacy and how its convincing fake image technology could be used.
The app, called Zao, works by superimposing an image of the user’s face onto a character in a video or GIF using artificial intelligence (AI). It was uploaded to China’s iOS App Store on Friday and became the most downloaded free app on the store by Sunday, according to tracking firm App Annie.
To use the app, you can sign up using your phone number and then upload images of your face from your phone.
But privacy concerns were raised when people noticed the user agreement said people who uploaded photos surrender intellectual property rights to their face and allow Zao to use their image for marketing, according to Reuters. The user agreement has since been updated, and CNN Business could not immediately verify the original language independently.
Zao also raised questions about how the images could be used. Creating convincing fake audio and video — known as “deepfakes” — isn’t new, but it previously took a great deal of time, skill and money. An app like Zao brings that technology to smartphone users around the world.
On Tuesday, Zao said it had changed its user agreement to address “concerns about privacy and safety issues.”
According to the latest version of its user agreement, Zao “will try its best, based on the privacy terms, to use the content you have authorized us to use within a reasonable, necessary and expressly stated extent.”
“Your necessary authorization and agreement will not change your ownership of the intellectual property rights,” according to the terms.
The company also promised in its statement not to store “facial biometric data” on its app. It also said it would delete information about users “according to the law” if they erase their accounts. Parent company Momo Inc. told CNN Business that would also apply to any users who signed the app’s original terms and conditions.
“We protect personal data and value data safety,” Zao added. “We’ve also adopted several safety measures including storage encryption.”