FaceApp Privacy Issue: The Russian App is Suspected to be Using Your Photos for Other Purposes

Ever tried to see what you look like if you were 50 years old older with an app called FaceApp?

Although the Russian-developed app has been around for the past two years, a recent internet challenge called the “FaceApp Challenge” that celebrities and influencers took part in has rocketed the app into worldwide popularity and, ultimately, into everyone’s phones.

Using an AI system, FaceApp can perform a variety of impressive photo manipulation actions such as making someone look younger, gender swapping, and the currently popular feature, giving you a peek into what you would look like old.

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Image: FaceApp.com

But with the current popularity the app is experiencing, also comes the questions by experts who suspect that something might be happening beneath the permissions that users approve when they download the app.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the US have already issued a warning to everyone involved in the 2020 presidential campaign to not use the popular app. Anyone who has already downloaded FaceApp and have it on their phones were told to “delete the app immediately.” This comes as a precaution as the DNC and Democratic campaigns were attacked by Russian hackers back in 2016.

Certain speculations about the app have also surfaced in the past month, such as that FaceApp downloads all the photos in the user’s media gallery and not just the one they selected to upload, that they save the photos of all the faces uploaded into the app permanently and not just for 48 hours as the app claims, or that it’s using data from users’ photos to “train facial recognition algorithms.” FaceApp has denied all these speculations.

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A French security researcher named Baptiste Robert, did his due diligence and fact-checked the rising concerns about the app, and his findings back up FaceApp’s denial of the speculations. Robert has shared with NBC News, “I found that FaceApp is not uploading the full gallery of the user.” “In general, this app is not asking a lot of data from the user.”

However, that doesn’t mean that users’ photos aren’t being used beyond the app.

In a report by CNBC, a statement from director of privacy and tech policy at Consumer Reports, Justin Brookman, explains what’s really in the app agreement that users sign to download FaceApp, adding that it “should concern” fans. Brookman said that the privacy policy of FaceApp states that it can do whatever it wants with the photos uploaded into their system, and their terms of use that people agree on to download the app gives them right to use their photos as the app sees fit.

He explained, “I would be cautious about uploading sensitive data to this company that does not take privacy very seriously, but also reserves broad rights to do whatever they want with your pictures.”

The selfies users upload into FaceApp could be used as stock photos or in ads, Brookman said, and also adding: “I don’t know how much the Russianness is concerning, although Russia has been known to use personal information in the past.”

Yikes. Do you think these concerns about FaceApp are true? Do you have the app? Tell us what you think in the comments!

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