A disturbing trend is emerging as apps and websites that utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to undress women in photos gain significant popularity, according to recent research. These applications, often referred to as “nudify” services, have raised serious concerns about privacy, ethics, and consent.
In September alone, approximately 24 million individuals visited these undressing websites, as reported by Graphika, a social network analysis company. Many of these services are marketed through popular social networks, and the number of links advertising undressing apps on platforms like X and Reddit has surged by over 2,400% since the beginning of the year, according to researchers. The core function of these apps is to use AI to manipulate images, creating a simulated nude version of the subject. It is important to note that the majority of these services exclusively target women.
Ethical and legal dilemmas
These AI-driven apps are part of a disturbing trend associated with non-consensual pornography facilitated by advances in AI technology, leading to the proliferation of deepfake pornography. Deepfake pornography typically involves the creation of fabricated media, such as videos or images, often without the subject’s knowledge or consent. These images are often sourced from social media platforms and distributed without the subject’s control or awareness, presenting significant ethical and legal challenges.
Online harassment and privacy violations
Concerns have escalated as some of these apps and services promote non-consensual behavior and harassment. For instance, one image posted on X promoting an undressing app suggested that customers could generate nude images and send them to the digitally undressed subjects, inciting harassment and abuse. Furthermore, some of these apps have paid for sponsored content on Google’s YouTube platform, appearing prominently in search results for terms like “nudify.” However, Google has stated that it does not allow ads containing sexually explicit content and is actively removing violating ads. As of now, neither X nor Reddit has responded to requests for comment.
Non-consensual pornography involving public figures has been a longstanding issue on the internet. However, privacy experts are increasingly alarmed that advancements in AI technology have made deepfake software more accessible and effective. These tools are now being utilized not only by malicious actors but also by ordinary individuals, including high school and college students, to target unsuspecting victims.
Challenges in addressing deepfakes
Addressing the issue of deepfake pornography poses significant challenges. While there are laws against generating such content involving minors, there is currently no federal law in the United States specifically banning the creation of deepfake pornography involving adults. Law enforcement often faces difficulties investigating these cases, and victims may struggle to secure funds for legal action.
In a notable development, a child psychiatrist in North Carolina was sentenced to 40 years in prison in November for using undressing apps on photos of patients. This marked the first prosecution of its kind under laws prohibiting the generation of deepfake child sexual abuse material.
In response to growing concerns, social media platforms have taken action. TikTok, for instance, has blocked the keyword “undress,” which is commonly associated with these services. When users search for this term, they receive a warning that it may be linked to behavior or content violating the platform’s guidelines. Similarly, Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook, has also started blocking keywords associated with searching for undressing apps. However, both companies declined to provide further comments on the matter.
Legal and ethical considerations
The rise of AI-powered “nudify” apps underscores the pressing need for addressing legal and ethical considerations surrounding deepfake pornography and non-consensual content generated through AI. While technology continues to advance, regulations and safeguards must be put in place to protect individuals from harassment, privacy violations, and the misuse of AI for harmful purposes.
In conclusion, the proliferation of AI-driven apps capable of generating non-consensual deepfake nudes is a concerning trend that highlights the urgency of addressing ethical, legal, and privacy issues in the digital age. As technology evolves, both lawmakers and tech companies need to take proactive measures to combat the misuse of AI for malicious purposes and protect individuals from potential harm