It’s all over our feeds, but the Russian owned FaceApp has some fairly sketchy privacy rules.
Ever wondered what you’d look like as an old person? You probably haven’t given it that much thought, but thanks to the new-found popularity of FaceApp you can now see into your future. The app has been going viral this week as members of group chats up and down the land share altered images of themselves that depict what they may look like as 80-year-olds.
For a few days it was nothing but a bit of harmless fun, until users started noticing the vague and potentially concerning privacy rules hidden deep in the application’s terms and conditions that, let’s be honest, most of us never read. How the app uses our photos is not particularly specific, and the app itself is owned by a Russian company, which has prompted one congressman to request an FBI investigation.
Is it anything we should be concerned about? Some experts reckon not, and FaceApp has cleared up how it uses our data, but the sudden alarm highlights how easily we give up our privacy to companies without even reading the fine print.
Where did FaceApp come from?
The app isn’t actually that new – it launched two years ago and made headlines when it received backlash for an ‘ethnicity filter’. That was quickly removed, unsurprisingly, but it does have a host of other, non-offensive features such as hairstyle and facial expression changes. It’s free, easy to use, and creates content that everyone wants to share. In short, a perfect hit.
There are also a host of features hidden behind a ‘pro’ paywall, which is where the app supposedly makes its revenue. The company’s based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, which is most likely what caused this whole panic in the first place.
Here’s the thing – yes, FaceApp is asking for ‘irrevocable worldwide’ use of your likeness and image, but this is true of nearly every single tech app you use. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all take your uploaded data to train AI and
develop machinery. To what extent they use this info is known only to the companies, but it is happening. And it’s happening everywhere, not just in Russia.
Should I be worried?
Don’t get out your tin hats out just yet. While yes, we should always be concerned about how our data is used and where it goes, the truth is that it’s impossible to avoid selling our likeness to tech companies. All of us use social media everyday to function, and without that intrinsic network, most of us couldn’t work efficiently. It’s unreasonable to simply try and live ‘off the grid’, because it just isn’t realistically viable.