No, the AI art app Lensa is not owned by the Chinese company Tencent

An AI art app faced increased scrutiny after it became popular online. The company behind Lensa is American – not Chinese, though at least one other popular app is.

Art generated by artificial intelligence has become the latest internet fad, with several apps and websites producing stylized images based on photos uploaded by users.

Some people, though, have been concerned about where the data uploaded to the sites is going, who owns it, and how it could be used.

For instance, one viral tweet containing a Tumblr post claimed a popular tool that makes anime-style art is owned by the Chinese company Tencent, and that the tech giant is also developing facial recognition software to be used by the Chinese government to track down protesters.

The post surprised many users, like one who replied “Wait, that AI Generator everyone was using was made by TENCENT???” – likely referring to Lensa, the app that’s been trending in the United States and has produced much of the viral AI-generated content in recent weeks.

THE QUESTION

Is Lensa owned by the Chinese company Tencent?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, Lensa is not owned by Tencent. However, a different popular AI art tool, Different Dimension Me, is.

WHAT WE FOUND

Lensa is owned by an American company called Prisma Labs, which is based in California.

But the original viral post is actually referring to another generator called Different Dimension Me, which takes photos and turns them into anime-style images.

That one is owned by Chinese company Tencent – it’s hosted on qq.com, the messaging, shopping, and social media site Tencent runs.

The viral post also goes on to claim that Tencent has developed facial recognition technology that the Chinese government is using to track down protesters. So how much of that is true?

We know that Tencent has facial recognition technology; it in fact promotes it on its website.

It has also been widely reported that the Chinese government uses face ID tech to identify and track down protesters from crowds. 

But whether Tencent is involved in that process is unclear. According to researchers at MIT, the company has collaborated with the Chinese government in the past, including on projects that involved tracking face data, but no recent reports specifically tie the company to recent activity tracking down protesters.

For its part, Lensa says in its privacy policy that it does not use photos uploaded to the app for any type of ID purposes.

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