Fake Livestream Apps With AI Audiences

"I downloaded this app called Parallel Live which makes it look like you have tens of thousands of people watching. Instantly, I became the life of the party."
Fake Livestream Apps With AI Audiences

In March, the influencer ItsPoloKidd posted a video to TikTok and Instagram in which he shows a woman at a bar that he’s livestreaming to 20,000 people on TikTok. “Are you rich?” she asks in the video. “Yes,” he responds. “Do you want to come with me?” The two walk away together. 

In the video, ItsPoloKidd’s voice over explains to viewers that none of what he showed her is real: “I downloaded this app called Parallel Live which makes it look like you have tens of thousands of people watching. Instantly, I became the life of the party,” he says as tons of comments, likes, and donations flash on screen. “The audience is AI generated, which can hear you and respond, which is hilarious. She couldn’t get enough. If you want to be the life of the party, check out this app called Parallel Live.”

The implication here is that you can download this app and use it to lie to women so they will find you interesting. AI has enabled the creation of many dumb, coercive, and dystopian apps, and, while it’s hard to crown any specific app the dumbest, most coercive, and most dystopian, Parallel Live and a nearly identical app called “Famefy” are certainly in the running. Famefy has 40,000 ratings on the iOS App Store and Parallel Live has nearly 5,000 reviews, suggesting these apps are depressingly popular. 

It is perhaps not surprising that an app like this was created by someone who calls themselves a “social engineer” and is promoted by people who post pickup artist-style and “prank” content. Parallel Live’s creator is Ethan Keiser, who last year bragged about creating an Instagram bot that endlessly spams women with DMs that say “goodnight queen.” Keiser has been promoting Parallel Live in about a dozen Instagram Reels and TikToks, many of which have millions of views. Both Keiser and ItsPoloKidd have amassed large followings by posting videos in which they either hit on or lie to women in public. 

In one video, Keiser shows how he can use the app to expose women as “clout chasers” and show how his app apparently makes women interested in him because of all of the “viewers” he has on the Parallel Live app. One video shows a woman who he called the “clout demon spawn of Satan” who was “instantly obsessed with me” and was “willing to throw away her relationship for clout” because of his apparent fame on the fake livestream. “My app Parallel Live is the only app that makes people instantly obsessed with you,” he says. “Please only download Parallel Live if you can handle this level of attention.” Keiser deleted this video after I emailed him about it asking for comment.

ItsPoloKidd, meanwhile, posts multiple videos a day of himself hitting on women in public with captions like “picking up girls in pacific beach!,” “Hitting on hot moms!,” “Hitting on hot Latina moms!,” “Hitting on Persian girls!” “Picking up girls in Spanish!” Other videos show ItsPoloKidd interacting with random women on the beach while a separate cameraman films their asses. In 2022, he filmed himself running on the field at a Padres game (a crime) and getting tackled by security: “Best moment of my life,” the caption reads. His Instagram advertises an ebook about how to pick up women called “Confidence=Attraction.” 

In other videos for Parallel Live, Keiser says things like:

“You might be wondering why this model is giving me a kiss …It’s because she thinks I’m a celebrity with 20,000 people on live.” 

“That’s me, Ethan, and I programmed a duplicate of Instagram Live that makes you look like you’re famous.”

In another video, Keiser explains how women at a pool party couldn’t keep their hands off of him while he pretended to be streaming on Parallel Live, then cuts to a scene in a club where he says “I then went to a club where the manager saw how many viewers I had an invited me to the VIP section.” In one video, he calls “Drake” while he is using the app with a woman. In the Instagram video, he writes this is an “AI Drake.” But the video of Drake is actually from an old livestream that Drake did with the comedian Druski. “Drake” is not actually a feature in the version of Parallel Live I tested.

These posts have gone viral repeatedly on both TikTok and Instagram, though most of the comments correctly point out that the use of these apps to lie to women is incredibly creepy, whether the scenarios portrayed in the viral videos are staged with the women beforehand or not. ItsPoloKidd did not respond to a request for comment. When reached by email, Keiser said he would only do an interview if he could record it on video. In the past, he edited coverage by the conservative commentator Candace Owens to promote his app on Instagram. When I pointed that out, he said the video was “only trimmed for the audience's enjoyment, not to mislead her point.”

For example, in the full clip, Owens says at one point “I don’t know whether or not this is hilarious or if it’s sad, but I’m leaning towards it is a very sad reflection of the world we live in when everyone wants to be famous.” In Keiser’s ad, the video is edited to where it sounds like she says “this is hilarious,” then moves on. Overall, Keiser edited Owens’s video to remove any criticism she had about his app. After explaining that I did not want to be edited into an ad for his app, I sent him a series of questions, which he did not answer. 

Both of the apps “work” in that you can pay them money to show you a screen that looks like you are live-streaming. Famefy lets users select between an overlay that looks like TikTok and one that looks like Instagram. It is also full of microtransactions: you can pay money to have people fake viewers give you fake gifts on your fake livestream, for example. You can also pay additional money to boost the number of fake viewers that you have. 

Parallels allows you to trigger specific comments by tapping different parts of the screen, while tapping the screen on Famefy seemingly does nothing. Both apps also have some level of speech-to-text-to-AI-recognition. The fake AI viewers nominally “responded” to the things I said out loud and referenced things I said aloud while testing the apps.

What anyone using these apps are actually doing, of course, is paying money (both apps require a subscription) to talk to absolutely no one on their phones while AI avatars spam them with generic messages and ads. In that sense, these are emblematic of many types of apps that we have seen enabled by AI, and, specifically, OpenAI’s GPT large language models. You can embed these LLMs in apps to make them look “smart” but in the end you’re still talking to no one.