Apple removes AI face-changing app amid privacy concerns
Published: Mar 08, 2021 10:52 PM
Facial recognition Photo:VCG


Avatarify, an AI face animator app that has gone viral in TikTok videos, has been removed from Apple's China app store, and analysts said the move was mainly due to concerns about invasion of privacy.

"The potential risk of invasion of privacy is the major reason behind the removal of AI apps like Avatarify," said Qin An, head of the Beijing-based Institute of China Cyberspace Strategy, on Monday. 

Unscrupulous individuals or groups might make money from these apps by using them to attract the public's attention first and then violating personal privacy, according to Qin.   

Qin's comments came after Avatarify - a face-changing app adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to allow users to replace their own faces with other people's faces for photography and videos - was removed from Apple's China app store.  

The app started trending on February 17 and ranked first on February 28 with more than 1.5 million downloads, according to a report by 

Chinese netizens have used the app to make funny videos, which went viral and started trending on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. But Avatarify was later removed from Apple's China app store on March 2, according to

In November 2019, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced a ban on fake video news produced using AI in a move to address growing concerns over the use of deepfake technology to create pictures and videos that look convincing enough to appear real. Net users or video platforms have been prohibited from creating, distributing, or broadcasting news content altered by such technologies.

Qin suggested that this kind of technology could be used purely for entertainment-related apps without any other purpose, and said that setting up regulations for AI is still a new topic for the world to explore. 

National People's Congress deputy Cai Weiping, who is chief expert at the Infectious Diseases Division of the No.8 People's Hospital in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, called for stronger protection of citizens' personal information at the two sessions. 

Global Times