TikTok is really good at entertaining users, especially with its barrage of filters. Filters on TikTok have been harmless fun for a while now, mostly serving as a punchline on to get arrested Or hide one’s own voice, but two new filters are scaring TikTokers from afar. Bold Glamor and Teenage Look are two new filters in the app that potentially use AI to completely alter our faces to an unrecognizable and eerie extent.
Although I use TikTok fairly regularly, my first experience with the Bold Glamor filter came when my partner sent me a screenshot of her playing with it. To be frank: it was weird. The filter removed his mouth fat and applied her eye shadow, mascara and lipstick in one swipe. She was practically unrecognizable, but it was really, really convincing, so much so that even she was surprised.
“Dude TikTok filters are so crazy,” she wrote to me in a text shortly after showing me the screenshot.
Meanwhile, the Teenage Look filter on TikTok has also received similar attention. The filter shows two videos: one of you as you are now, and the other with smoother skin, pinker lips, and a rounder face. Basically the app is trying to compare what it thinks youd watch or watch as a teenager to your current appearance. Although the effect can be as convincing as Bold Glamour, Tech Crunch argues that the real answer to Teenage Look lies in the filter forcing users to confront their own mortality and aging.
Scroll through the pages of the respective filters and you’ll find plenty of evidence from TikTok creators who are shocked at how much these filters have altered their faces. But there are many filters on TikTok that are created by users themselves to apply effects to faces, so what makes Teenage Look and Bold Glamor so special?
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“A traditional filter takes your two-dimensional screen, then it overlays a facial mesh on top that follows your face,” said Luke Hurd. in a video posted on his Twitter. Hurd is a consultant who has worked on Snapchat and Instagram filters according to The edge. “(Bold Glamour) actually takes the image from the camera itself and then processes it.”
Previous face filters relied on this face mesh that Hurd refers to, which maps and tracks a human face in order to apply the filter. This method may cause the filter to glitch slightly when something (like a hand) passes between your face and the camera, as the filter gets confused by the new obstacle. But Bold Glamor and Teenage Look allegedly use Generative Adversarial Networks, or GANs, in order to cover your face using machine learning. These filters are also made by TikTok itself, as opposed to a user or third-party company.
“Put simply, GANs pit two competing neural networks against each other in a fight to the death,” Hurd told The Verge. “Because it uses you, it then compares aspects of your face to a data set of images that start to match your cheeks, eyes, eyebrows, lips, etc.”
As detailed in The Verge’s report, the outlet reached out to TikTok multiple times and received no comment on whether or not Bold Glamor and Teenage Look use AI, but the dots certainly connect. Similarly, TikTok previously announced in February that filter creators could access generative adversarial networks in the app’s Effect House, which is TikTok’s home for filter creation tools.
Gizmodo has also reached out to TikTok for more information on the mechanics behind Teenage Look and Bold Glamor and has yet to hear back.