You’re not officially in 2020 until you’ve been acquainted with deepfakes, those misleading videos that replace one subject with another using artificial neural networks.

While some have already used this technology to deceive the masses, Snapchat recently spent over $160 million on its own deepfake technology for hopefully less deceptive purposes.

TechCrunch has confirmed earlier reporting from Ukrainian site AIN.UA that first learned about Snapchat’s $166M purchase of AI Factory.

According to TechCrunch, AI Factory’s technology has already been put to use with a Snapchat feature introduced last month:

The company has acquired AI Factory, a computer vision startup that Snap had worked with to create Snapchat’s new Cameos animated selfie-based video feature, for a price believed to be in the region of $166 million.

So what’s the deepfakes connection with SnapchatTechCrunch explains:

Cameos, launched last month, lets you take a selfie, which is then automatically “animated” and inserted into a short video. The selection of videos, currently around 150, is created by Snap, with the whole concept not unlike the one underpinning “deepfakes” — AI-based videos that look “real” but are actually things that never really happened.

Cameos is likely only the first new feature of many to come to Snapchat through the deepfake maker acquisition. TechCrunch notes that the company has taken their site offline following the acquisition, but AI Factory touts “multiple AI business solutions based on image and video recognition, analysis and processing” on their LinkedIn company account.

Deepfake videos can be extremely deceptive to the naked eye, however, so the new technology has been a great concern in the era of propaganda. Exactly how social networks should moderate and respond to malicious deepfakes has yet to be tested beyond a few incidents.

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About the Author

Zac Hall

Zac covers Apple news, hosts the 9to5Mac Happy Hour podcast, and created