image copyrightNippon Television Network System

image captionThe man, Zonggu, had used photo editing apps to make himself look like a young woman

Photos of a smiling young woman with her motorbike proved popular with social media users in Japan and began to notch up hundreds of likes.

But some eagle-eyed followers noticed things did not add up; her arm seemed very hairy in one photo, and a mirror reflection showed a different face.

A TV show revealed the star of Twitter user @azusagakuyuki was actually a 50-year-old man named Zonggu.

He admitted to using photo editing apps to create his alter ego.

Zonggu told the TV programme Getsuyou Kara Yofukashi (Sitting Up Late From Monday) that he had wanted to increase his presence on social media and believed people would prefer to see a “younger beautiful woman” rather than an old “uncle”.

“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.

Zonggu said he had been surprised by the results of editing apps such as FaceApp.

“First I just tried, then it happened to turn out to be fairly pretty. I get as many as 1,000 ‘likes’ now, though it was usually below 10 before,” he said, adding: “I got carried away gradually as I tried to make it cuter.”

image captionZonggu’s Twitter following reached 19,000 when he posted as his alter ego

Zonggu’s big reveal on the show had a mostly positive reaction from his 19,000 followers.

“I watched the TV show and became your fan!”, one wrote. Another said: “You have superb magic skills!!

Editing software such as FaceApp allows users to change the appearance of faces in photos, for example to look younger or older.

But the tools have prompted privacy concerns with the FBI warning in 2019 that the Russia-developed FaceApp posed a “potential counterintelligence threat”.

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