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Thousands of stripped women. What kind of bot got into Telegram

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

Fake photos of more than 100 thousand naked women were circulated on the network, their clothes were artificially removed from photos from social networks.

Deepfakes are photos or videos generated on a computer based on real samples. One of the uses of this technology was the creation of pornographic videos based on images of stars and famous people. 

How it works

The way to create a deepfake is as simple as possible: a user sends a photo of a person to a bot, and in response receives his own image, but without clothes. When using the bot for free, the program hides some parts of the image or draws watermarks over it.

Experts found that by July 2020, more than 100,000 such nude photos, including those involving minors, had been published on the public Telegram channels. About 70% of the images were uploaded by users from Russia and neighboring countries. In a survey conducted on one of the channels, the majority of people (63%) said they use the service to create pornographic images of their acquaintances; 16% upload photos of celebrities there, 7% – photos of random people from the Internet. 

To create images, bots use DeepNude technology, which, using neural networks, can remove clothes from a photograph, drawing parts of a naked body instead. It was presented in the spring of 2019. A few months later, when the major media began writing about DeepNude, the authors closed the project, stating that “the likelihood that people will abuse it.” Since then, as Sensity found out, however, the source code of the program has appeared on the Internet in the public domain on torrent trackers. 

Sensity concluded that the vast majority of users of such services create photos for themselves. But at the same time, experts believe that some of the images are also used for extortion and blackmail – although the study did not find direct evidence of this.

An example of bot operation. Photo from BBC

Unrealistic

The administrators of the Telegram service themselves admit that the quality of the images does not correspond to reality.

The British Air Force made a number of experiments with private photos with the consent of their owners, but the result was never completely realistic – there was even a case when a woman’s navel was on her chest.

Sensity says that the bot’s work was accompanied by a massive advertising campaign on the Russian social network Vkontakte.

Last year, the US state of Virginia became the first place where deepfakes were officially declared illegal.

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