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FaceApp: do you know how your data is being used?

Are you one of the millions of people who’ve recently downloaded FaceApp from Apple’s App Store or Google Play to see what you’ll look like when you’re old? 

After first becoming popular back in 2017, FaceApp is basking in its 15 minutes of new-found fame thanks to its realistic age filter. Individuals are busily posting and sharing photos of themselves with wrinkles and grey hair across all social media platforms. All good fun, but many are now wondering what will happen to the photos they’ve uploaded to this app developed by a team in Russia.

“It’s all too easy to get caught up in the hype and then repent at leisure,” comments Duncan Austin, Cloud Director here at etiCloud.

“With cyber attacks and data hacks happening with increasing frequency, it’s more important than ever to understand how our personal data is handled, used and where it is stored by the developers of such apps that appear innocuous at first glance.”

How does FaceApp work?

FaceApp’s genius lies in its simplicity. Users download FaceApp and add just their photos. Each photo is then uploaded to a server where it is processed and sent back to the user. The app actually utilises artificial intelligence to change people’s faces with a number of different filters.

Continues Duncan: “As with all apps we download, each comes with its own terms of service that users must agree to before the download can be confirmed. By agreeing to FaceApp’s terms of service the user is allowing the company behind FaceApp to use the photos for commercial purposes such as advertisements and ‘other purposes’. What those ‘the other purposes’ are, we don’t know as they’re not specifically outlined anywhere in the terms.

“What’s more, the terms of service state that FaceApp may continue to store the user’s data for an undisclosed length of time even after it has been deleted from the app. FaceApp’s privacy policy then goes on to underline that user data can be stored and transferred to any country that FaceApp or its affiliates operate in, namely Russia where the team that developed the app is based.”

Concludes Duncan: “The truth of the matter is we’ll probably never fully know what happens to the user data gathered through FaceApp. Its success relies on users’ trust, curiosity and FOMO. When it comes to FaceApp, and pretty much every other app out there, our advice is to look carefully before you leap into sharing personal information online; you never know where it might end up.”

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