3 Reasons To Be Concerned About Viral App FaceApp

Written by Ann Brown
FaceApp is displayed on an iPhone Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in New York. The popular app is under fire for privacy concerns. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

An app called FaceApp lets you see what you will look like in the future — it’s become all the craze. But it seems users’ privacy could be in danger. More than 100 million people have already downloaded FaceApp from Google Play, making it the top-ranked app in 121 countries, according to mobile data company App Annie.

Shades of Cambridge Analytica? Maybe. “FaceApp, whose parent company is the Russia-based Wireless Lab, uses artificial intelligence to transform users’ current face into their future looks, had a resurgence this week as social media timelines were flooded with before-and-after images,” wrote Karu F. Daniels in the New York Daily News.

Despite the privacy issues, the app has become mega popular, even with celebrities like Will Smith, the Jonas Brothers, and Cardi B are hooked. They have all postied photos on social media of what they will look like older. Seems like innocent fun, however, there is more to the app. “But at the same time, people have been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures — and names — for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires,” Forbes reported.

FaceApp said there’s nothing to worry about. The parent company told TechCrunch that they “don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties.” They issued a statement that said users can ask that their data to be deleted, however according to the terms of service, FaceApp will still own a license to do whatever they want with the images users freely provide to them. This has raised the privacy red flags.

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Here are three reasons to be concerned about FaceApp, which launched in 2017:

  1. If the Democratic National Committee is concerned, maybe you should be. According to CNN, the DNC sent a security alert to 2020 presidential candidates warning them not to use the app. “This app allows users to perform different transformations on photos of people, such as aging the person in the picture,” read the alert, issued by DNC Chief Security Officer Bob Lord. “Unfortunately, this novelty is not without risk: FaceApp was developed by Russians.”
  2. Your photo is theirs. “While according to FaceApp’s terms of service people still own their own ‘user content’ (read: face), the company owns a never-ending and irrevocable royalty-free license to do anything they want with it…in front of whoever they wish: You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you,” Forbes reported. Most likely, your face will probably be used in training for an AI facial-recognition algorithm.
  3. Over the years it has been revealed that apps, such as various viral Facebook apps, use the data they collect in a variety of ways. “And, that the data collected is not always stored securely, safely, privately. Once something is uploaded to the cloud, you’ve lost control whether or not you’ve given away legal license to your content,” Forbes reported. For FaceApp to work it has to have access to all of your photos. It also gets access to your Siri and Search data.