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23 Oct, 2020 14:33

Russian human rights activist calls on Telegram messenger to block 'pornbots' after thousands of women are stripped naked by AI

Russian human rights activist calls on Telegram messenger to block 'pornbots' after thousands of women are stripped naked by AI

Moscow-based human rights activist Alyona Popova has called on Telegram to block 'pornbots,' which use AI to turn clothed pictures into nude ones. The Russian-designed app hosts a bot responsible for undressing people in photos.

Writing on Facebook on Thursday, Popova urged the app's creator Pavel Durov, as well as the app's administrators, to "make it impossible for such services to work on his platform." One bot has reportedly undressed the subjects of more than 680,000 photos.

"Yes, this is fake nudity, but fake photos look like real ones and can cause enormous damage to their victims," Popova wrote. "Its victims can become targets for bullying, ridicule, harassment, violence, revenge, and blackmail. The result of such photographs can be disastrous for the lives of many girls."

Although the channel had been used in this way thousands of times, it was only recently reported in mainstream news, after being discovered by cybersecurity company Sensity. According to the company, hundreds of thousands of pornographic images were created, mainly ordered by customers from Russia and other neighboring countries.

The bot uses a technology called DeepNude, a program that uses neural networks to remove clothing from images of women, turning photos into realistic-looking nude pictures. In June 2019, the technology's anonymous creator announced that he would be taking down the software, as the "world is not ready." The developer revoked licenses to the software from those who had already purchased it. Despite these actions, the technology was already in the ether, making it impossible to keep under control. 

The report from Sensity also discovered that many photos processed by the bot appear to be of underage subjects, "suggesting that some users were primarily using the bot to generate and share pedophilic content."

Speaking to the BBC, the owner of the Telegram channel claimed that "no one will blackmail anyone," saying that the technology still produces photos with "unrealistic" results.

Also on rt.com #Metoo, Moscow style: One of Russia’s biggest & oldest film studios comes under scrutiny for facilitating ‘MosFilm Maniac’

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