From news outside the world of search engine optimization; a new app from Google – Cameos – has officially launched, allowing celebrities and other public figures to shoot home-made video responses to frequently asked questions in Google search results. The app is intended to aid in eliminating false information by turning up answers in the form of face-to-face video.
The app comes as an extension of a trial program from last year, where the video responses were embedded into search results for some mobile users. During this time, only invited figures could participate, but now anyone can apply to be accepted by the app.
The first celebrities to try the app out last year included Gina Rodriguez, Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell, who has explained through the app why he can speak Swedish, and what his favourite dad joke is.
Google presents a Cameos user with popular questions that have been collected about them, along with generic trending topics that they can answer. The app records portrait video responses by default, and we’ve yet to see anyone record anything significantly different to the same, front-facing camera videos that we expect from something like an Instagram story.
Currently, the app is mobile only, both for recording responses and for viewing them, so you won’t come across it anywhere outside of iOS for now. It also appears to be localized to the US.
One of the most socially and culturally prevalent uses of Reddit’s platform is the AMA, or Ask Me Anything, where verified celebrities host a forum thread to speak candidly about themselves and answer questions from the public. A few other publications have drawn a link between the similarities of the AMA format and Google Cameos, implying that the two may end up in opposition.
The two services may not end up having to fight for the same space at all. Reddit AMAs are typically organized and hosted around a particular event, whether it’s to respond to a specific appearance of the celebrity in question, promote a specific project, etc. Google Cameos is aimed at being a much more continuous and on-demand service than AMAs, though it’s not hard to imagine them eventually being used for the promotion of celebrity products.
While it’s certainly not easy, it would potentially still be possible to manipulate Google Cameos to pose as a celebrity or public figure, and dispense false or misleading information. As early as 2016 there have been examples of face-mapping technology with the ability to re-dub audio, and make it look convincing.
Google’s application process is probably enough to thwart this for now, but depending on how popular the app becomes, we could see it being used maliciously.