Saturday, May 23, 2020

FaceApp Lets You Peek Into The Future. Does It Also Violate Your Privacy?

FaceApp is the photo-altering smartphone application that takes one of your photos and 'ages' it by decades. The app works scarily well, and the modified photographs do give users a realistic glimpse of what they could look like in 30 to 40 years, or what they may have looked like as young children. 

The app was created by Wireless Lab of St. Petersburg, Russia, and quickly soared to be amid the top free apps in both the Apple and Android app stores. This could have something to do with the major social media and celeb following. Once A-List celebrities like The Jonas Brothers, Drake, and Chris Hemsworth began shouting out the app on social media, needless to say, the buzz around FaceApp was swarming. 

The Russian hacker jokes are endless. Many influencers have taken to Twitter to poke fun at the fact that Russia now has access to many of our personal photos and potentially our information. While there is no hard evidence that FaceApp is stealing photos and taking them back to Russia for some evil project, there are a couple of privacy issues.

FaceApp And Your Privacy, What You Need To Know

FaceApp's privacy policy and terms and conditions have been raising eyebrows, and growing concerns over cybersecurity and the app are on the steady incline. One clause that stands out is that FaceApp holds extensive rights to its user's photos. Do keep in mind that many other apps do as well, though, and this is the unfortunate "norm" in the world of photo applications. According to Jeremy Gillula, who is a project director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a nonprofit civil liberties group) does say there is cause for concern. 

According to Gillula, "The fact that a lot of apps and services usually contain this catch-all clause that says you grant us worldwide license to reproduce, modify, adapt, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your user content always seems a little over the top to me.  

Is FaceApp Safe To Use?

It's always disheartening when a seemingly fun, harmless smartphone application can create serious concerns surrounding privacy and cybersecurity. Many of the app's young users don't give a second thought to whether or not their information is protected. However, for working professionals, people who own/operate businesses, and anyone who wants to keep their privacy, using FaceApp may not be the best idea. 

Reps from FaceApp have divulged that most of the images uploaded from their serves have a 48-hour lifespan until deleted. They claim to never sell or share user data with third parties; however, in their privacy policy, it does say they reserve the right to share some information. 

This info includes analytic tools to help measure traffic and usage trends, and these are done with third-party organizations. 

All in all, FaceApp most likely isn't using your photos for some kind of world-domination scheme, but you should still be cautious of everything you post on the app.

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