Deepfake Porn Videos of Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson on Facebook Slammed

Meta, the company which owns Facebook and Instagram, said it acted swiftly when hundreds of sexually suggestive ads with the faces of famous actresses were seen on its sites.

The ads for a deepfake app showed manufactured images of actresses, mainly Scarlett Johansson and Emma Watson, seemingly initiating sexual acts. They were created on the FaceMega app.

Deepfake videos refer to short clips created using "deep learning" algorithms that place one person's face on another person's body. Previously, deepfakes have been used to create phony statements by politicians.

facebook and instagram logos on a screen
The logos of social media applications, Facebook and Instagram displayed on the screen of an iPhone on February 20, 2023, in Paris, France. Meta, the company that owns the social media sites, has removed hundreds of sexually suggestive 'deepfake' ads featuring famous actresses. Chesnot/Getty Images Europe

The ads were part of a new campaign by app developer Ufoto Limited, which is owned by a Chinese parent company, Wondershare, according to NBC.

They were seen broadly across the internet including on Facebook and Instagram over the weekend. The ads would start with the image of a woman seemingly at the start of a scripted pornographic video with the recognizable sound played at the beginning of every video on the website, Pornhub.

Within a few seconds the woman's face would change to a convincing deepfake of a famous actress. While many actresses featured in the ads, the majority showed Black Widow's Johansson and Harry Potter star Watson.

"Replace face with anyone," the caption on the app's ad read. "Enjoy yourself with AI swap face technology."

The app in question was given a rating of only being suitable for users aged 12 years or over because of "sexual innuendo" included in it.

Independent journalist Lauren Barton noticed the ads while using a background eraser app and tweeted about her experience. That tweet went viral with more than 14.7million views and others reporting they'd seen it on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

"I got this ad yesterday and wow what the hell," Barton tweeted.

Hundreds of people replied to her tweet and retweeted, discussing the ramifications of such technology for celebrities and lay people alike.

"This is just a new way to sexually harass women. It's taking away your bodily autonomy and forcing you into nonconsensual sexual material, which can then be used to humiliate and discriminate against you. Not to mention the psychological effects," wrote NBC reporter Kat Tenbarge.

Another user, Colleen, added: "This is so dangerous for women. Someone doesn't like you? They can literally create fake revenge porn of you, potentially causing you to lose your job, your livelihood etc. The government won't have laws about this for 10 years so good luck if someone makes this using your face."

Following Barton's viral tweet, Meta removed the ads from its platforms and Apple removed the app entirely from its app store. FaceMega was also taken off Google Pay, the app store for Android devices, a spokesperson for the company told Newsweek.

Meta told Newsweek it "immediately took the ads down and restricted the advertising."

"Our policies prohibit adult content regardless of whether it is generated by AI or not, and we have restricted this Page from advertising on our platform," a Meta spokesperson said.

In January 2020, Facebook said it intended to strengthen its policy against deepfake videos. It now removes videos where it would not be clear to "an average person" that the content would mislead someone "into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say."

It also made clear all videos which violated its community guidelines, whether they were deepfake or not, would be removed from Facebook. They included anything that involved nudity, graphic violence, voter suppression, and hate speech.

FaceMega's own terms of service prevent content being created that is sexually explicit or depicts a transaction of a sexual nature.

Users are also prohibited from infringing on a "third party's" rights, whether they be copyright or privacy, and are not allowed to "act deceptively or impersonate any person or organization."

Newsweek reached out to FaceMega via email for comment.

Johansson has previously condemned deepfake videos of herself, especially those pornographic in nature.

"Obviously, if a person has more resources, they may employ various forces... But nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else's onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired. There are basically no rules on the internet because it is an abyss that remains virtually lawless, withstanding U.S. policies, which, again, only apply here," she told The Post in 2019.

Update, 3/10/2023, 2.09 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add that the app was also removed from the Google Play store.