FaceApp Celebrities

FaceApp Craze

I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures by now. Celebrities, athletes, and the general population alike are posting their FaceApp pics online; some including the hashtag #faceappchallenge. I’ll admit, I see why this app is trending again, as the pictures are hilarious. You may recall a similar craze in 2017 with FaceApp, but with a new and improved “old person” filter, the pics are better than ever. No matter if it adds 50 years or 10 years, the wrinkles and the gray hair are sure to induce a few laughs. However, the laughter is dying down as privacy concerns come to light. After all, this is a Russian company. Are the concerns warranted? With over 80 million users, more and more questions are being asked. What’s happening with FaceApp data? How is my data being used? While we don’t have all the answers, we can dive into what has been said.

David Beckham FaceApp
David Beckham

FaceApp Data Privacy

First things first, FaceApp isn’t the only app that is collecting your data. Obviously, apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have pictures and demographic information from you stored away. However, it appears the FaceApp data collection may be slightly more invasive than people realize. There is evidence that FaceApp uploads the photo you take to a remote server in order to apply the filter on the server side. As of recently, you can request that FaceApp deletes your data from their servers, but they are currently backlogged on these requests. While there is no way to know if they actually delete the photo data off these servers as they claim, it’s worth knowing that Google has similar data on their servers. The primary reason for concern is that FaceApp is Russian owned. However, FaceApp claims no data is being sent back to Russia. They also claim that it doesn’t sell user data to third parties. It’s worth noting that these claims are hard to verify. 

One privacy concern that seems to be more valid comes from FaceApp’s licensing agreement. In the privacy policy, which people must agree to in order to use the app, they incorporate broad language that allows them to use people’s usernames, names, and likeness for commercial purposes indefinitely and irrevocably. However, they aren’t the only app to have this policy, as the popular video app “Tik-Tok” has one that is similar. While some people may argue this is invasive, it’s fair to say every app has trade-offs. An additional concern to be warranted comes from Lawyer Elizabeth Potts Weinstein who says the policy isn’t GDPR-compliant. Although, their use of broad language in the policy is practically standard procedure used to avoid lawsuits.

Meghan Markle FaceApp
Meghan Markle

FaceApp Data Usage Questions

Not everyone is sold on FaceApp’s claim denying data being sent to Russia. US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer recently called on the FBI to conduct a national security and privacy investigation into FaceApp. His concern boils down to the “full and irrevocable access to personal photos and data.” The possibilities of what can be done with access to such photos seems to be growing at a rapid pace with the spread of artificial intelligence and machine learning. For example, there have been questions raised about the ability to create real looking videos which depict people in a negative manner, thus seriously manipulating the perception of them. With access to these photos, one can imagine that AI could create a real looking video with FaceApp users. However, this is on the rather extreme and pessimistic side of the argument.

Conclusion

In the end, FaceApp data concerns do not seem to be warranted. While there is a general uneasiness over the location in Russia, they appear to be using your data in ways that Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc. use your data. Now, whether people know to what extent Facebook, Google, etc. use your data is a completely different story. As mentioned, there are certainly trade-offs. However, there is no need to sound the alarm as of now. As long as you’re ok with giving them full commercial rights, feel free to carry on. If you’re looking to read more about what’s current in the data sector, click here. To explore more on this topic, click here.