Aged yourself on the FaceApp yet? Here's what you need to know about privacy concerns

The app has gone viral in the last week after hundreds of thousands of users began digitally 'aging' themselves.
  • Friday, July 19, 2019 - 16:37

The internet was filled with pictures of what people would like if they were much older — and all of these pictures had been uploaded to FaceApp, an app developed a team of Russian developers. The app has gained viral fame — for the second time since 2017 — with celebrities jumping on the bandwagon as well. At one point, the app allowed people to switch races, as well as swap genders.
However, the sheer number of people posting the picture of what they would look like with wrinkles and gray hair raised a valid concern — what was the app going to do with these pictures and were they any protections for the wealth of data it had procured?
Here’s everything you need to know about the controversy surrounding the app:
  1. There were claims that FaceApp uploaded not just one, but all of a user’s photos to the cloud. However, this has since been debunked. “FaceApp performs 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,” the company said in a statement after privacy concerns arose. The company added, “We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date."
  2. Multiple users online started posting screenshots of the app’s privacy. One particular paragraph that alarmed users was: “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid, transferable sub-licensable 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 media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”
    While this certainly doesn’t loo3k good for the app, points were raised about widely used social media websites and applications, such as Facebook, that weren’t much better. Facebook, especially, has been flagged for privacy concerns multiple times.
  3. Another aspect that fueled concerns was that the company was Russian, and that the data would be used by the Russian government. “Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia,” the company said in its statement. Their servers are in the US. It also added that they “don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties.”
  4. US Senator Chuck Schumer asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a national security and privacy investigation into the app.
  5. While users only have the company’s word that the images are deleted from the servers, the company said that users can approach them for their data to be deleted, and outlined the way users can approach the company for deletion.



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