We are obsessed with selfies, and people seem to love camera filters. We have seen people lose their minds every time Snapchat releases a new filter, even if it makes you look like a dog. The newest app, “FaceApp,” uses artificial intelligence to edit your pictures to make you look old or younger, but experts are concerned.
FaceApp, which is a Russian-developed company, has been used by just about everyone in recent weeks as we all apparently want to look into the future to see what we will look like in our old age. Even news outlets have been using them as a fun, light-hearted segment to make people laugh.
Experts warn, though, that we should not be laughing. In fact, if these experts are right, we should be extremely worried. According to James Whatley, a strategist from Digitas, using FaceApp just once allows the app to do whatever it wants with all the camera roll in our phones from here on out.
“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable… royalty-free… license to use, adapt, publish, distribute your user content… in all media formats… when you post or otherwise share,” he wrote on Twitter.
FaceApp is one of the leading downloads due, in part, from the #faceappchallenge where the goal is to upload some altered photo of yourself to social media. Even after the app is deleted from a phone, Whatley urges people to take precautions as the app could still access photos without permission.
Security expert, Ariel Hochstadt, told the Daily Mail that he saw this coming years ago and nobody wanted to listen. “Hackers many time are able to record the websites that people visit, and the activities they perform in those websites, but they don’t always know who are those users,” he said.
He added a hypothetical also. “Imagine now they used the phone’s camera to secretly record a young gay person, that visits gay sites, but didn’t yet go public with that, and they connect his face with the websites he is using. They also know who this image is, with the huge DB they created of FB accounts and faces, and the data they have on that person is both private and accurate to the name, city and other details found on FB.”
That’s a shocking amount of information gathered without someone’s knowledge or permission. So, yes, technology is great — until it is used against us.
According to a statement from EuroNews, FaceApp claims they only upload the images you edit and don’t sell data to third parties. That said, the license for the app is very clear, that the company does own the rights to use those images as they see fit if they wanted to.
In a statement to Euronews, FaceApp said that only photos uploaded by the user are sent to the FaceApp cloud, where most of the photo processing for the app is performed.
“We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud,” the statement said.
A photo uploaded to the cloud may be stored for reasons of “performance and traffic,” and “most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.”
The statement reiterated that FaceApp does not “sell or share any user data with any third parties,” adding.
“Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia,” it added.