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Unless you were sitting under the rock for the last week, you’ve heard of the FaceApp. Does that ring any bells? You would have certainly seen your friends or celebrities sharing their supernatural and uncanny pictures looking older than their actual age.
Looks cool right? Well, this app allows users to upload photos of their faces and have them automatically edited to look like their future selves, replete with wrinkles and greying hair. Notably, this app gained a massive 4.8 ratings on the App Store and 80 million active users.
How does it work?
The FaceApp uses advanced Artificial Intelligence and Neural network technology to detect the ideal spots for wrinkles, smile, grey hairs and other features on your face.
It’s all fun, and we happily skip past the privacy aspect until someone reveals that FaceApp headquarters is in Saint Petersburg, Russia. To make is more precise, a Russian company called Wireless Lab owns FaceApp, and the Russians are known for flexing the democracy rules and aboveboard online activities.
What’s the rumor circulating online?
As per rumors, the Russian app appears to gain access to the photo libraries of those who download it and then stores them on external servers.
Secondly, when the user submits a photo on FaceApp, it is processed and stored on its server. There is no clarity of what happens to image upon processing, which acts as an alarming factor in terms of privacy concerns.
FaceApp official statement!
After being flooded with complaints, FaceApp publicly addressed privacy concerns stating that user images are not shared with third parties, nor uploaded to the Russia-based server. Additionally, the company accepts user requests for personal data to be deleted. FaceApp claims most photos will be removed within 48 hours anyway citing overload.
To those, who want to remove their data from FaceApp, can request through the app by clicking Settings -> Support -> Report a bug with “privacy” in the subject line.
Many experts suggest that the app isn’t doing anything particularly unusual in either its code or its network traffic. They also propose that people should think about how their data will be used before sharing it with an unknown app.
Why should you be aware?
Many cybersecurity experts believe that photos could be used in unexpected ways, considering the app’s terms and conditions. Some claims that the picture could be used overseas, including Russia, whose government has been accused of interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential election. On top of that, the company doesn’t explain how it protects user content stored on its servers as well.
Baptiste Robert, a French security researcher, said that the app was not compliant with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
“When you upload your photo, you have no idea how your photo is used,” Robert said, noting that the app’s terms and conditions are vague.“Don’t rush to use this application because you don’t know how your data is used after that.”
FaceApp’s long history!
If you think FaceApp is new, then you are wrong! FaceApp in the past achieved popularity and extensive criticism for introducing a series of ‘racist’ selfie filters and ‘ethnicity’ change filters respectively.
Being cautious is the key!
All said and done, this is not the first time and won’t be the last either! Well, a bit more caution would be prudent, when you sharing data with any third-party app.
Are you considering staying on the safe side? If yes, you must delete everything on your phone, including Facebook and Instagram, considering Zuckerberg’s long and troubling history of user privacy violations.
What do you think about FaceApp? Do let us know your thoughts below!
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