An AI tool that “removes” items of clothing from photos has targeted more than 100,000 women, some of whom appear to be under the age of 18.
The still images of nude women are generated by an AI that “removes” items of clothing from a non-nude photo. Every day the bot sends out a gallery of new images to an associated Telegram channel which has almost 25,000 subscribers. The sets of images are frequently viewed more 3,000 times. A separate Telegram channel that promotes the bot has more than 50,000 subscribers.
Some of the images produced by the bot are glitchy, but many could pass for genuine. “It is maybe the first time that we are seeing these at a massive scale,” says Giorgio Patrini, CEO and chief scientist at deepfake detection company Sensity, which conducted the research. The company is publicizing its findings in a bid to pressure services hosting the content to remove it, but it is not publicly naming the Telegram channels involved.
The actual number of women targeted by the deepfake bot is likely much higher than 104,000. Sensity was only able to count images shared publicly, and the bot gives people the option to generate photos privately. “Most of the interest for the attack is on private individuals,” Patrini says. “The very large majority of those are for people that we cannot even recognize.”
As a result, it is likely very few of the women who have been targeted know that the images exist. The bot and a number of Telegram channels linked to it are primarily Russian-language but also offer English-language translations. In a number of cases, the images created appear to contain girls who are under the age of 18, Sensity adds, saying it has no way to verify this but has informed law enforcement of their existence.
Unlike other nonconsensual explicit deepfake videos, which have racked up millions of views on porn websites, these images require no technical knowledge to create. The process is automated and can be used by anyone—it’s as simple as uploading an image to any messaging service.