Sleuth social media users noticed irregularities in pictures posted from the @azusagakuyuki account, such as a mirror showing another face and mismatched arms, and thought something was amiss. This prompted a television programme to investigate further – and figure out that the young woman was actually a fifty-something man named Zonggu from Japan.
He came clean, ‘fessing up about his true identity and admitting that he’d used photo-editing apps to create the character.
The move was apparently an effort to increase his engagement on social media because, according to him, people like seeing a “younger beautiful woman” instead of an old “uncle”.
“No- one will read what a normal middle-aged man, taking care of his motorcycle, taking care of his motorcycle and taking pictures outside, posts on his account,” he told Getsuyou Kara Youfukashi (Sitting Up Late From Monday), the show that busted his gig.
Zonggu said he was surprised by how photo editing pps - such as FaceApp - worked, and the results they gave him.
“First I just tried, then it happened to turn out to be fairly pretty. I get as many as 1,000 ‘likes’ now, though it was usually below 10 before,” he said, “I got carried away gradually as I tried to make it cuter.”
His big reveal garnered him more attention, and he now has more than 21,000 followers.
“I watched the TV show and became your fan!!” one wrote. Another said: “You have superb magic skills!!”
FaceApp allows users to switch attributes, such as age, gender and makeup.
The FBI has warned against it, saying it presented a “potential counterintelligence threat” and can form a part of a wider problem caused by deepfakes, something that adds to online misinformation.