Heard about the latest deepfake technology?
Known as x-ray vision apps, Deep Nude is a development of existing technology that uses advanced algorithms to turn a photograph of a clothed woman into a realistic image of that same person…..naked. Though the original app itself was withdrawn from sale after downloads of its services went viral and sparking controversy over the moral implications of this kind of software. Despite the fact that the app is no longer legitimately available for download, the internet is awash with sites that promise a version of the tool as well as a few sites that have copied the idea.
In this feature, we’ll take a closer look at the controversy over the original DeepNude app as well as how the technology worked. We’ll also look at other similar services that have popped up since the app was removed from sale and the dangers of downloading DeepNude apps online.
What is a Deep Nude App?
Early in 2019, a new app hit the market called DeepNude that promised users the power of X-ray vision. The app, available for free, was simple to use and you just needed to upload a photograph of a clothed woman to start the process. From there a sophisticated algorithm using generative adversarial networks to remove the subject’s clothes leaving you with a fake nude photo. Users could then pay $50 to have the watermarks of the app removed so not only did you have a fake nude photo but you had one that couldn’t be identified as being fake at all.
The tech was automatic and worked by:
- Detecting clothing and estimating the size, shape and position of all body parts.
- Comparing its database with similar shapes, sizes and positions and identifying a suitable match.
- Combining the original with the matched body parts to create a composite of the two with the clothed areas being replaced by nude body parts.
And the app did only work with pictures of women as, according to its creator, there are more naked pictures of women available online to feed the app with than of men. True though that might be, the app was both an instant success in terms of the number of interested parties but also a categorical failure due to the widespread backlash of such a technology.
Created by an anonymous developer, thought to be from Estonia and simply called ‘Alberto’, the DeepNude app came in for some serious criticism across a wide range of media sources and public forums.
The controversial tool found itself at the center of a row over deepfake revenge porn pictures and the sinister ways that the service could be used. Think about it, although Photoshop and deep fake photos have existed for some time, it has inherently required a lot of effort for someone with some skills to be able to produce a realistic photo of this kind. The app did away with the need for technical skills in this area and actually produced some incredibly realistic nude photos of people who have never posed naked for a camera in their life; creepy, right?
The dangers of this app being misused were all too obvious and after the launch of the service went viral causing their servers to crash, concerns were being raised about the ethical use of DeepNude After some consideration the creators decided to pull the plug for moral reasons.
In an online statement accompanying the withdrawal of DeepNude, the company said:
“We created this project for users’ entertainment… we never thought it would become viral and we would not be able to control the traffic. Despite the safety measures adopted (watermarks), if 500,000 people use it, the probability that people will misuse it is too high.”
So, that’s that then…or is it?
Sadly not, since DeepNude was taken off sale, several other developers have released similar versions of this viral x-ray vision app and many rogue sites continue to offer a download of the original.
Alternatives to DeepNude
Okay, so there is no safe way to get your hands on a copy of the DeepNude app but that hasn’t stopped some developers from creating their own versions of this x-ray vision tool.
The most well-known of these is DeepNude.To; an in-browser tool rather than an app for your phone or smart device.
Just like the original, all you have to do is upload a single image and let the system do its work. The results vary depending on the quality of the photo you upload and can return some strange and unusual images if the person you are ‘denuding’ isn’t facing the camera full on. In some tests we undertook, the results were more comical than erotic and included one image of a member of our staff that (apart from being blurry) included nipples on thigh and a single breast in the middle of the chest! Another test of a stock photo revealed our subject with luminous green tits…..again, we’re not sure just how much use these would be in terms of revenge porn but, instead, seem meant to entertain rather than be abused.
The developers for this app suggest that, for more realistic results, images of women in their underwear or bikinis work best as this is how its AI engine is trained to deal with the human body.
Visitors to the site can trial five free images to ‘de(ep)nude’ but premium membership gives you an unlimited amount of images to fake, no watermarks plus priority image generation and no ads.
You can purchase a membership for one week, one month or (if you are an ‘influencer’) get five free images for every new user who signs up.
Alternatively you can buy some of the merchandise branded with the company logo and get a month free. Payment can only be made via BitCoin.
It is worth pointing out that this Deep Nude tool has no relationship to the original. This new version is set to stay the distance and calls itself ‘liberal’ when it comes to the issues surrounding the use of this technology. In fact, so committed are they to the cause, they are considering how to develop a male version of the tool.
Why Downloading DeepNude is a Bad Idea
The original website that hosted the DeepNude app has been taken down by its creator ‘Alberto’ and no longer exists online….legitimately. As ever with the internet, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of places that are offering to supply it.
Simply type deepnude app, deepnude apk, deepnude download into Google and your search results will return thousands of sites claiming to be able to supply you with a copy of this controversial little tool.
However, the vast majority of these sites either do not have the app and misleading internet users into a rabbit hole of surveys, links and premium sign-ups or can supply a copy of DeepNude app….at a price. And it is the price that is important here. Some sites are charging visitors to download these copies but the real cost of these pirated versions of the app is safety and security. Yes, the vast majority of these files are thought to contain malware and/or adware all of which represents a cybersecurity risk.
It is therefore recommended that you do not download copies of the DeepNude app.
The Ethics and Legality of Deep Nude Apps
Whilst the ethics and morals of a deep nude app are clearly questionable, the makers of these tools attest that the results are clearly not sophisticated enough to be real. Their argument is that the tools are meant to be used for fun and they employ the use of watermarking to identify the difference between fake and real imagery.
Of course, premium members can pay for these to be removed so could the photos be used for revenge porn?
In the trials we undertook, we would be hard pushed to say that they could and the results were far from being realistic and were virtually unidentifiable as human in many respects. And, we’d have to agree with the developers of these tools here and say that revenge porn is not a new phenomenon and if people want to abuse technology to create fake nude images then there are already plenty of more sophisticated ways to do this.
However, as the technology advances and certainly paying members are promised better results, there is every reason to believe that deep fakes created in this way could eventually become indistinguishable from real nude images. This is a worrying leap in terms of accessibility but one that the developers at DeepFake.to aren’t concerned with. In fact, it is their belief that their technology could prevent revenge porn. Quite how is a baffling and puzzling question?!?
Which brings us to the next question of legality. Is using these kinds of tools illegal or not?
Again, the creators are keen to point out that deep nudes are simply an art form created by an artificial artist but this alone does not prevent certain types of image from being illegal. Certainly, if the app was used to generate pictures of a minor then the laws on pedophilia would still apply irrespective of whether the ‘result’ was fake ‘art’ or real.
And, when it comes to deep fake nudes, the legal area is pretty grey depending on where you are located in the world. As ever, laws around these developments are always behind the times and there is no precedent for these specific tools and their outputs. However, the law is pretty clear in most countries about revenge porn and how nude pictures of a person can be used. In some states of America there are already laws against deepfake porn and it is likely that these could be applied to deepfake nudes too.
So, there you have it. Whilst the technology exists, there are limits to how it can, and morally should, be used. Enjoy it as a bit of harmless fun with the consent of whose image you are using and it should be fine but don’t start sharing these pics around the internet unless you want to fall foul of local laws.