The Brief: Following the recent viral trend of sharing photos of one's "future self" using FaceApp, there has been some concern about the photo-editing app's privacy policy.

Bluesquiggle
DEEP DIVE

For anyone who’s ever wondered what they’ll look like in fifty years, now you have your answer. Just as Snapchat’s filter allows people to see younger versions of themselves, FaceApp’s “Age” filter has users aging themselves once again, this time to be older.

Over the last few days, FaceApp users have been sharing their “aged” photos in hilarious memes across social media. These posts are often hashtagged with #FaceApp or #FaceAppChallenge. There have also been several other iterations of the meme which roast the sudden popularity of the app.

What’s most surprising about this recent viral trend is that there wasn’t much news about FaceApp until recently. In fact, according to BroBible, “The app went from complete obscurity to one of the most popular and downloaded apps in the iTunes App Store and on Android,” all in the span of a few days. It begs the question, why the sudden popularity?

What is FaceApp?

FaceApp, available to both iOS and Android users, claims to be “the most advanced neural portrait editing technology.” It’s a “state of the art” photo-editing app powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The app is extremely simple to use. After uploading a photo, users have the option to change hair color and style, add a smile, and most notably, “meet their future self”. As of July 2019, the aging feature appears to be the most popular and widely-memed FaceApp filter.

FaceApp Privacy Concerns

After quickly gaining popularity on social media, some serious AF news broke about the app’s origins which then caused immediate privacy concerns amongst users.

A web developer’s tweet set off minor internet panic when he warned that FaceApp could be taking all the photos from users’ phones without user permission and uploading them to its servers in Russia.

According to Forbes, the app does have the potential AND privilege to automatically download a user’s photos – ALL of their photos. Whether that’s in fact happening, is a different story.

Seeing as the developer’s company is based in St. Petersburg, Russia it’s true that uploaded faces will be viewed and processed in Russia. However, a security researcher who goes by the pseudonym Elliot Alderson recently tweeted that the FaceApp only takes submitted photos – those that you use the software to transform.

Be Safe, Be Smart

As with any app, it’s important for users to read the privacy policy before download, in order to know what is and is not “private”. As far as we can tell, current evidence does not suggest that FaceApp has any nefarious plans for users’ photos.

While the app may store an uploaded photo in the Cloud, they also accept requests from users to remove data from their servers. Here’s the full FaceApp Privacy Policy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *