While regular members of the public are free to grab a McDonalds in old sportswear or visit a store without full makeup, the mere suggestion of such sloppy behavior has the potential to make an A-List celebrity sweat like a PwC accountant at the Oscars.
Indeed, for people like Kanye West or Kim Kardashian, getting mistaken in public for a drunken bum could have catastrophic financial consequences. If annoying members of the public record and then upload such footage to the Internet, sponsors could back away, horrified at how regular they look without Photoshop.
But for those needing to maintain a perfect public image at all times, both in public and on YouTube, all is not lost. A new app being trialed in the US aims to stop interfering ‘citizen journalists’ in their tracks, rendering embarrassing celebrity footage all but useless.
Under development for iOS and Android, the app is made up of two modules. The first is a tool that downloads the most popular pop track of the week (currently Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’) from one of many pirate sites.
The second is a clever piece of coding that allows the track to be played extremely loudly through the phone’s own speaker, but with a novel twist.
Whenever Kim needs to go out without her hair done, all she needs to do is pop her phone in her pocket and activate the app. The software then transposes the pirate audio to surpass 15 kHz, beyond the normal range of human hearing but within reach of recording equipment utilized by the public.
It’s at this stage the app comes into its own. As soon as the potentially embarrassing footage is recorded and uploaded to YouTube, the site’s recently upgraded Content ID system swings into action.
Completely unfazed by the massive shift in pitch, YouTube’s filtering system spots the pirate song playing in the background and flags the video as a copyright infringement. Thanks to a less tolerant approach to infringers, it’s immediately taken off the site, keeping the celebrity’s image intact.
At the moment the app is being trialed by a few hand-picked public figures who are said to be particularly image-conscious. Their feedback has been largely positive, with a number asking for specific enhancements.
One nameless politician, who has been caught on camera a number of times saying inappropriate things about women, inquired whether the app could be upgraded to play a quickly medley of three or four songs instead of just one. This would ensure that people lose their YouTube account under the site’s tightened three-strike rule. Take that.
Looking towards the possibility of a future takedown/staydown regime, another tester suggested that rather than culling pirate tracks from the Internet, the app could play a unique sequence of notes previously copyrighted by the celebrity.
Once that ‘tune’ has been registered with YouTube’s Content ID, it would be trivial for the public figure to have the app rolling on his or her phone all the time. This would enable them to be excluded from YouTube on a permanent basis, perfect for the politician who likes to act with impunity.
A video of the app in action can be found here.