A Ukrainian YouTuber discovers her AI clone is selling Russian products online in China

A wave of videos featuring foreign-looking women speaking Mandarin and expressing their love for China is sweeping Chinese social media platforms.

The strange thing is that These avatars are created from online images that are stolen, reproduced and reusedto the point where real women can recognize themselves in these videos.

One of these affected women is Olga Loiek, a 20-year-old Ukrainian student studying cognitive science at the University of Pennsylvania. A few months ago, Olga started a YouTube channel where she talks about mental health and shares her life philosophies.

However, she soon received messages from followers telling her that they had seen her on Chinese social media. There she is not Olga Loiek, but a Russian woman who speaks Mandarin, loves China and wants to marry a Chinese man. Her name can vary between Natasha, Anna or Grace depending on which social media platform in China you find her on.

In some videos, avatars express how much they value Russia-China relations. In others, they praise Chinese history and culture or talk about Russian women’s desire to marry Chinese men. These videos are mostly They direct viewers to visit online stores to purchase products that they claim are authentically Russian.

 

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has flagged some of these videos as potentially AI-generated. However, The comments show that many believed they were seeing a real woman. One user wrote: “Russian beauty, the Chinese welcome you.”

Loiek would never say such things, especially since he comes from Ukraine, a country that has been at war with Russia since 2022.

On Bilibili, China’s largest video site, some AI videos featuring Loiek’s face bear the HeyGen logo, indicating that the video was created on the company’s website. HeyGen is a Los Angeles-based artificial intelligence company founded in China in 2020. It specializes in realistic digital avatars, voice generation and video translation.

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Although HeyGen’s technology was used in AI videos of Donald Trump and Taylor Swift speaking perfect Mandarin that went viral on Chinese social media in October 2023, the moderation policy prohibits the creation of avatars “Represent real people, including celebrities or public figures, without their express consent.”

Loiek and her YouTube subscribers have filed complaints with Chinese social media companies, resulting in the removal of around a dozen fake accounts.

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