FaceApp: Is Russian Face-Aging App stealing your personal data - See Latest
FaceApp: Is Russian Face-Aging App stealing your personal data

Highlights:

 

  • FaceApp is an app by a Russian company. Using an age filter, it shows users how they will look after 40 years.
  • In the last one week, over 150 million people have used the app.
  • Responding to privacy concerns, FaceApp says it is completely safe and that it only collects minimal data from users.

 


FaceApp issue - Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This challenge involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face.


 FaceApp isn't taking photos of your face and taking them back to Russia for some nefarious project. At least that's what current evidence suggests. After going viral in 2017, and amassing more than 80 million active users, it's blowing up again thanks to the so-called FaceApp Challenge, in which celebs (and everyone else) have been adding years to their visage with the app?s old-age filter.

 

The app uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what you might look like in a few decades on your iPhone or Android device.
The problem is that just with any other app that uses personal data such as a photo, there are privacy concerns around FaceApp. A number of people have raised concerns, including a US senator who wants the app investigated by FBI for possible data misuse.


Do you know about FaceApp:
FaceApp is an app that allows users to put age filter on any photo and show you how that person will look when he or she is old. It has gone viral and people are posting their young and old photos on social media. There are privacy concerns about FaceApp, which is made by Russian company Wireless Lab. There are also concerns that FaceApp not only uploads the photo on which you are applying age filter into its servers but also all other photos from your phone. However, this is just a rumour because security researchers have not found any evidence of it. It's true though that the photo on which you apply age filter is uploaded to FaceApp servers.
 
FaceApp responds:
FaceApp has clarified that it is not a privacy risk. In a statement it has said, "FaceApp performs most of the photo processing in the cloud. FaceApp says that its R&D team is in Russia but it doesn't store user data in Russia.


Forbes contacted FaceApp founder Yaroslav Goncahrov, who provided a statement Wednesday morning. He said that user data is not transferred to Russia and that most of the photo processing in the cloud. "We only upload a photo selected by a user for editing. We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud," Goncharov added.

He said that users can also request that all user data be deleted. And users can do this by going to settings, then support and opt to report a bug, using the word "privacy" in the subject line message. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date. And he added: "We don't sell or share any user data with any third parties."
 
Another privacy risk is that the users photos can be utilized by apps like FaceApp to teach its smart algorithms how people's faces change with age.  Similar fears were raised when trend of #10yearchallenge went viral on Facebook in January this year. In this people upload their photos from 10 years earlier to show how they changed.
 
So, we can say that this is not the first time when FaceApp is in the news for wrong reasons. Two years ago the company created an ethnicity filter that allowed people to change their photos to look like a person from some other country or race. FaceApp apologised and removed the filter after controversy.