Several messages are circulating on social media warning users not to get onboard the latest trend on social media in which individuals are able to see what they would look like in years to come—or what their much younger looked like.
In Nigeria celebrities including Don Jazzy had already shared theirs, but the app’s connection drew suspicion to its intentions, considering the app has already been downloaded by over 100 million users on Google Play Store alone.
“As FaceApp gives people the power to see their facial expressions now, and years in the future, little do they know that they have also been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures, and names, for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires, John Koetsier wrote on Forbes.
The Russia-based app applies filters to photos. In spite of the frenzy surrounding the app, it is worthy to note that it is not knew. The app first went viral in 2017, but this time it’s catching on because of a filter that makes users look older or younger. As with the last viral moment, however, users have been surprised to learn that the app’s creators are harvesting metadata from their photos.
How the app works
The fame of the app is attributable to the realistic nature of the effects of the filter and this is due to its unique deployment of artificial intelligence which uses neural networks for photorealistic selfie tweaks.
Regarding the suggestion that the app is collecting users’ data for for potential renaissance and other purposes for the Russian governments, tech experts revealed the app’s code or its network traffic weren’t usual.
“So if you’re worried about FaceApp, there are probably a bunch of other apps on your phone doing the same thing,” The Verge reported.
Still, the conversation does bring attention to standard tech practices that might be more invasive than users realize.
To use the app, iOS users select specific photos they want to put filters on, and there’s no evidence of the app downloading a user’s entire photo roll. The company then uploads the specific images to its servers to apply the filter. FaceApp never spells out that it’s downloading the filtered photo, but it’s not unusual, as iOS researcher and CEO of Guardian Firewall Will Strafach noted on Twitter.
Yaroslav Goncharov, an ex-Yandex exec and CEO of the Russian company that created the app, said that photos uploaded to the app are stored on the company’s servers to save bandwidth if several filters are applied, and that they get deleted not long after.
In a statement to TechCrunch, FaceApp said it accepts requests from users to remove their data from its servers. The team is currently “overloaded,” but users can send the request through Setting>Support>Report a bug with the word “privacy” in the subject line.