FaceApp has been getting a huge amount of attention in the media lately for being the hottest new craze that everyone, including celebrities, seems to be using to modify faces in pictures to alter their appearance. Also receiving a great deal of media attention is its seemingly nefarious terms of service that none of us read, which have sparked fears of privacy invasion and security worries. Is there really anything to be worried about though?
Probably the most interesting and popular feature it has is the ability to make a person look 25-30 years older in a seemingly very accurate way, if you are lucky enough to still be able to use your mother or father as a comparison. Using powerful predictive artificial intelligence (AI), the app uses algorithms to accurately predict what an individual will look like as a much older person, and has other features which have the opposite effect. It can alter specific features like hair colour and facial hair at the whim of its users, and also features the faces of celebrities that the user can also play around with.
You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sublicensable 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 all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to youFaceApp – Term
So why the sudden mass paranoia? After all, FaceApp has been around since 2017 and is not, in fact, a new phenomenon. Well, it was when someone in Congress finally took a good look at the terms of service (above) and raised the alarm to the FBI that the 150 million faces and names that had become accessible by Russian app creators, Wireless Lab, based in St. Petersburg, and due to the seemingly sinister wording, requested that there be a full investigation over fears that there may be a threat to American national security, as shown in the letter below.
Admittedly, the terms of service do sound quite sinister, but no more so than most other app creators who need to ensure they are protecting their business interests. It is also worth pointing out that images aren’t processed directly on your phone as this would actually result in a worse experience for the user. It would take longer and burn up your battery. Having the processing done in a different server hides the processing code from competitors wanting to make apps like FaceApp. It’s said to be more of a business tactic than some Russian spy thing.
Yaroslav Goncharov chief executive of FaceApp said in a statement that most images are deleted from their servers within 48 hours from the upload date.
Probably the most irritating outcome of this kind of big data collecting will be nothing more that the additional targeted marketing and advertising which will likely mean that we all start to see a lot more adverts for sunglasses, hair loss therapy, and the latest teeth whitening products.