FaceApp craze on social media raises concerns about AI and privacy

The viral app that can gender swap or age your likeness sparked concerns about online privacy. "Nightline" examines the dangers of another form of artificial intelligence, deep fakes.
9:05 | 07/19/19

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Transcript for FaceApp craze on social media raises concerns about AI and privacy
Reporter: Despite what we say about not wanting to see ourselves age, we apparently do, and thanks to a crystal ball on our phones we can, even in Hollywood where youth is an obsession, celebrities are getting in on the social media action, from the Jonas brothers to Carrie Underwood, to in synch. It's all part of the latest craze to hit social media. It's called face app. The app, which was developed in 2017, uses a type of artificial intelligence to transform your with just one tap. Want a beautiful smile? Done. Want a preview of what you might look like in 50 years? Bingo. It's that age filter that's led to the recent explosion in popularity, making it the top free app in the iPhone app store, but in the wake of recent social media scandals where other platforms have been taken to task for giving away users' private information many are now wondering if face app is a potential risk. Its rise in popularity is now raising privacy concerns. When you start using face app you agree to a pretty harsh terms of service which says that any photo that you use in face app, technically owns it and has the ability to use for anything it wants. Reporter: According to its privacy policy, face app cannot ensure the security of any information you transmit to face app or guarantee that information on the service may not be accessed, disclosed, altered or destroyed. But to ease concerns, in a recent statement at tech crunch, the company claims that it doesn't sell or share any user data with any third parties, and that even though the core team is based in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia. It also says most photos that users upload are erased within 48 hours. Despite that, though, just the mention of the app being created in Russia has thrown some people into panic. Yesterday the democratic national committee, perhaps recalling Russian interference in the 2016 election sent out this warning. Face app was developed by Russians. We recommend that campaign staff and people in the democratic ecosystem should not use this app. The Russian connection with face app, it's kind of a bully man. There's no indication face app is cooperating with the Russian government, giving data over to them or anything like that. So that's kind of something that has become a scare tactic more than it's based in Rea. Reporter: While facial editing on things like face app might be fun and games, many people worry that other advancements in technology could result in unwanted and potentially harmful results. The worry is it turning into something that can be used as ammo for a deep fake. This technology is getting better every day. Reporter: Last year we studied deep fake videos. What are you about to see is an example of just how convincing this technology can be. We're entering an era in which our enemies can make it look like anyone is saying anything at any point in time. Reporter: This looks like president Obama and sounds like him, too. Kell monger was right. Or Ben Carson is in the sunken place. Reporter: But it isn't. See, I would never say these at least not in a public address, but, someone else would. Someone like Jordan Peele, moving forward, we need to be more vigilant. Reporter: In this case, buzz feed and Jordan Peele used the technology to create an eye-grabbing psa, but experts fear that in the wrong hands deep fakes could become the next frontier in fake news and spark very real consequences. What could be so dangerous about a deep fake? We're used to looking at an image or video and putting faith in it, and with the rise of being able to manipulate that, our faith is going to be in jeopardy. Reporter: It created deep concern in 2017 when Reddit users started posting fake pornographic videos online, largely targeting actresses like gal gadot, super imposing her face without consent. As the technology continues to evolve, some people worry they could become intis ding wishable from the real deal. Potentially triggering widespread panic, riots or even war. Those threats grabbed the attention of lawmakers. Deep fakes is a new area, and we know people will continue to find new ones. Reporter: And the department of defense. I think a lot of times there are some indicateders that you can see, but it's going to get more and more challenging over time, that's why we developed the media forensics program. Reporter: Is this an arms There's certainly a bit of a cat and mouse game going on. Reporter: He heads darpa. His task. Developing algorithms that can spot the fake even when the eye can't. Do you think that that was manipulated? Reporter: No. In this case the video was actually manipulated. You'll see the real video on the right-hand side. The car that moved through the scene was essentially erased out of the video. Reporter: While the technology isn't flawless, there are pretty convincing spoofs out there, from nic cage in the sound of music. The hills are alive with the sound of music Reporter: Or the "Godfather." Even the "Avengers". But the creators of videos like these are aware of the controversy. We reached out to the person behind derpfakes. They claim to be one of the early deep fake innovators. They didn't want to reveal their name but told ABC that all deep fakes have a level of controversy attached to them. They add from our perspective, the best approach is to make the public familiar with the idea that what we see is not true by default. Either way, it's here to stay. What have you witnessed so far that's worrisome to you? Manipulations that may have required state-level resources or several people and significant financial effort can now potentially be done at home by an individual. Reporter: So you're saying it's become easy, and it's cheap to create a deep fake. It is significantly easier than it has been in the past. You'll always be with me. Reporter: The creation of a deep fake is somewhat similar to the state of the art special effects used in today's film making, like the face mapping used to add the late Paul walker's likeness to the movie ""Furious 7"". But deep fakes also have a lot in common with technology you're probably more familiar with. The photo album on your phone that learns your friends' faces or face swapping on Snapchat. There's Jackie. And there's me with Jackie's So, if you compare a deep fake to what a person can do with Snapchat on their phone, deep fakes are much more Reporter: Let's see the super computer. I can tell the train on that data, take those models and create deep fakes. Reporter: At the university of Colorado, Denver, it's Jeff Smith's job to create convincing deep fakes as one of darpa's partners. We are manipulators. We act at bad guys, creating manipulated audio, video and imagery so that the algorithms that are being developed under the program can be tested and overall the ability for the detection of manipulated media gets better. Reporter: And, as that happens, Jeff hopes his students can stay ahead of the curve. I just want to help develop the software they're trying to develop to detect this kind of fake media so people hopefully aren't tricked by videos that you request easily make, which is the software we have. Reporter: Is the mantraere don't always believe what you Exactly. Reporter: And while seeing may not necessarily be believing in the digital age, looking beyond face value may be more important than ever. For "Nightline," I'm Kyra Phillips, in Denver, would could. Just to be clear, there has been no link between face app and a deep fake.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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