It’s honestly not that bad, but unless you’re code-savvy you can’t really tell, right?

Released in 2017, FaceApp didn’t quite become the viral sensation it is today until summer of last year when everybody went crazy over the astounding tech that shows you your aged self in just a click of a button. But soon after, cybersecurity experts began waving red flags at the app saying its Russian foundations could lead to a breach in national security.

Even when the experts have cited certain excerpts from the app’s own privacy policy–which we know no one reads–everybody thought it was just one big overblown conspiracy theory again.

Fast forward to a year later, June 2020, and we’re back to seeing not only aged faces of millennials all over social media but gender-bent ones (the latest AI tech the app is offering) and up it goes once more in the trending charts.

People once again began raising concerns over its privacy policy with some citing that they’ve improved a huge deal from a year ago, making it clearer than ever which data is being collected and where it’s being used.

The Source

One cybersecurity journalist however took it upon himself to reach out to the creators of the app this time and actually hear it from the source. Washington Post’s Geoffrey A Fowler shares the following information from an exchange of emails with FaceApp CEO, Yaroslav Goncharov:

  1. The only data they have is the photo you uploaded. When you use the app without signing in with your email–which is what people are doing–they won’t have access to that information as well.

  2. FaceApp doesn’t “sell or share any user data with any third parties” aside from the usual Facebook and Google AdMob.

  3. “Most” user-uploaded photos are deleted from the server within 24-48 hours.

  4. You can request for all your data to be deleted but the process is quite twisty and no, deleting the app or uninstalling it won’t erase your data from their servers.

  5. No, they don’t use photos to run facial recognition on users but it still stands that FaceApp’s terms give the app-or anyone else who buys this information-“irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferrable sub-licensable license.”

However transparent they have become since they first launched in 2017, because their actual code is yet to be studied, and because our legal privacy policies continuously fail to catch up with technology, I guess we’ll have to settle with taking it with a grain of salt.

We ought to question app stores run by tech giants, Google, and Apple; why do we need to pay for an app store upgrade that will help us determine threats in the privacy policies of apps? Why can’t they prioritize user protection?

Do FaceApp at your own risk, but with the rise of  Deep Fakes and identity theft for “political” gain, the risks are quite high so maybe, stick to the classic aging process called time for now?

Are you skeptical about FaceApp? Would you still use it in spite of the risks? 

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