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They weren’t even posting porn.
A week after banning subreddits related to fake celebrity porn, Reddit has also dropped its banhammer on a community dedicated to FakeApp, an app that uses machine learning to replace one person’s face with another’s face in videos.
Defenders of the app touted its legitimate uses, but in practice, most people who downloaded it just wanted to edit female celebrities into hardcore porn scenes. They called the resulting videos “deepfakes.”
The r/FakeApp subreddit now carries the same notice as the subreddits that were banned a week ago, including r/deepfakes and r/celebfakes: “This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically our policy against involuntary pornography.”
The r/fakeapp forum’s rules explicitly banned pornography. Judging by the most recent cached version of the subreddit, it was dominated by technical discussion of the software, mixed in with some non-porn fakes, like one that turned Tom Hanks into Woody from Toy Story.
DeepFakeApp, the Redditor who created the software and moderated the subreddit, wrote that Reddit admins had contacted him before closing the forum down.
“The admins have messaged me stating that they found content relating to non-consensual pornography on r/fakeapp and had to shut it down,” he wrote on another, still-active subreddit called r/giffake.
“I sincerely thought I was effectively filtering or manually removing all of that sort of content as it was being posted, but it is possible some slipped in and I didn’t catch it,” he added. “I am disappointed but I will respect the admins’ decision. From now on FakeApp distribution and discussion will have to be limited to here or the website.”
Other users on the forum are floating the theory that someone who doesn’t like deepfakes sabotaged the FakeApp subreddit by making a prohibited post and then reporting it to Reddit admins.
“Uhhhhhh. Someone just posted an hour ago on [r/FakeApp] asking for celebrity facesets. It was strangely straightforward and seemed off,” wrote one poster on r/giffake. “All of a sudden the sub is banned? This is strange and fishy as fuck.”
Whether it’s being used for porn or not, FakeApp has been a public relations nightmare for social networks since it first launched. Gfycat, PornHub, Discord, Twitter, and others have all banned deepfakes, leaving the future of AI-assisted celebrity porn to the darker corners of the web.
Proponents of FakeApp love that it enables anyone with a decent graphics card to compete with the Hollywood video editors who recreated a young Princess Leia in Rogue One or removed Henry Cavill’s mustache for Justice League. They argue these technological advances are inevitable, so banning videos is shortsighted and pointless—banning mere discussion of the software, even more so.
Unfortunately, any positive applications for deepfakes have been overshadowed by the vanguard of horny nerds who just want to use them to jerk off to Hermione Granger and the stars of Game of Thrones. When that’s the public face of the technology, is it any surprise that Reddit would move to cover its ass, both legally and in terms of public relations?
Jay Hathaway is a former senior writer who specialized in internet memes and weird online culture. He previously served as the Daily Dot’s news editor, was a staff writer at Gawker, and edited the classic websites Urlesque and Download Squad. His work has also appeared on nymag.com, suicidegirls.com, and the Morning News.