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Deepfake 'nudes' are being created by bots on Telegram

(Image credit: Telegram)

A network of bots which use AI to digitally remove clothes from pictures of women has been found operating on social media network Telegram.

Deepfakes, or images faked using artificial intelligence and photo editing, are becoming more common. This is concerning because there are already issues of people being unable to discern whether what they see online is real or not.

A security firm called Sensity,  found that this network of bots has generated over 100,000 deepfake nudes of women with users on Telegram submitting photos to be 'de-clothed'.

While some of these photos are of celebrities, it was found that many were women submitted by people they know. It is thought that most of these women don't know their images have been used. A "limited number" were of those who appeared to be underage as well. 

The report found 70% of the accounts were from Russia. While these bots are free to use, those wanting images with full nudity or without a watermark are required to pay an extra charge. 

These fake nudes are generated using generative adversarial networks. This is a kind of machine learning where the AI is trained in a certain subject to create its own unique version. In this case, it is trained in photographs and so aims to attempt to create a photograph that is as close to recognisable for humans as possible. 

This tech isn't quite perfect yet and there are still pixilations, smears and bad generation that makes it more obvious that it's not an authentic photograph. However, even terribly made fakes are still made without the persons consent and can be used as a tool for harassment and extortion. 

Sensity said that the network is currently mostly linked to users in Russia and has not yet been picked up much in other English speaking countries. 

Tech Radar reached out to Telegram for comment but received no response as yet. 

Leila Stein

Leila Stein is an experienced multimedia journalist and content producer with a special interest in data journalism. she is skilled in news writing, editing, online writing and multimedia content production and have a Bachelor of Journalism  from Rhodes University and an Honours in Historical Studies from University of Cape Town.