Don’t believe everything you see on social media.
A seemingly motorcycle-obsessed “young woman” in Japan has been unmasked as a 50-year-old man with great hair, after he revealed that he used a face-changing, gender-swapping app to become an influencer on Twitter.
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The individual, who goes by Azusagakuyuki on Twitter, attracted more than 23,000 followers by posting photos of himself as a young woman on a motorcycle in recent months. Many of the posts were filled with optimistic sayings and emojis, and a few of them show the “woman” posing in a towel or topless. Others show her striking “cute” poses in a style known as kawaii.
Some followers started to get suspicious when they noticed the hair on Azusagakuyuki’s arm in a few recent photos, Gizmodo Spain reports. Some also thought they saw a man reflected in the mirrors on Azusagakuyuki’s motorcycle.
Azusagakuyuki finally cleared up the suspicions by unmasking himself in an appearance on the Monday Late Show, a popular Japanese TV program, earlier this month.
This split image shows Azusagakuyuki as a digitally altered woman and as a man with an image filter applied.
The man, who goes by the name Zonggu, confessed that he used an AI-powered face-changing app to make himself look like a young woman.
“No one will read what a normal middle-aged man, taking care of his motorcycle and taking pictures outside, posts on his account,” he said, according to a translation by BBC News.
He says he fell into the deception while experimenting with a face-changing app, after he noticed that people were much more interested in his posts as a “younger beautiful woman.”
His first digitally altered post dates back to last August, though he started using the app more frequently beginning in late October and November. Most of the photos show Azusagakuyuki involved in motorcycle-related activities, although food selfies and glamour shots became more common over the following months.
“I got carried away gradually as I tried to make it cuter,” he said.
Zonggu also demonstrated for the show how he digitally alters his images to make himself look like a woman.
He appears to be using a FaceApp-style editing program that quickly alters a person’s appearance using artificial intelligence. The Russian-made FaceApp program triggered an aging challenge and fears about security when it first became popular in 2019.
Zonggu has since embraced his open deception on social media. He’s posted a few photos of himself and has continued to share images of his female alter ego.
It’s not the first time that thousands have been catfished by a personality on social media. A popular video blogger in China accidentally revealed in 2019 that she was using an app to de-age herself for social media, triggering shock and outrage.
There are also some popular social media influencers that do not exist in the real world.
Zonggu’s face reveal does not appear to have hurt his Twitter following. Hundreds have continued to like, retweet and leave positive comments on Azusagakuyuki’s posts in the two weeks since he revealed his true face.