The face altering App, FaceApp has gained tremendous interest in the past few months with thousands sharing the results of their own experiments with the app on social media. The app is equipped to edit photos of people’s faces to show younger or older versions of themselves or even switch genders.
Developed in 2017 by a Russian company Wireless Lab, FaceApp is a mobile application for iOS and Android which uses artificial intelligence to alter people’s faces to make users look younger, look older, or change gender. It can also handle more subtle changes in an image, such as altering a person’s hairstyle, adding a smile, or applying makeup or tattoos to a face.
Spike in Popularity
FaceApp had already been fairly popular since it was launched in 2017 with tens of millions of downloads, however, it experienced a spike over the past months. This recent spike in popularity likely has a lot to do with celebrities who used the app and posted the results of their FaceApp changes. Pop artists like Drake and the Jonas Brothers, athletes like LeBron James, and actors like Zachary Levi have all joined in on the FaceApp trend.
Business Insider published a report of the research firm, Sensor Tower which concludes that in mid-June, FaceApp was adding about 65,000 new users a day. The app now has over 100 million downloads on the Google play store.
Privacy and Data Concerns
In 2019, as FaceApp become extremely popular, many people decided to check out its terms of service and what they found attracted criticism in both the press and on social media over the privacy of user data. The terms state that the company behind FaceApp has the right to use any photo altered by the app for commercial purposes. Also, any user data it collects can still be stored on the company’s servers, even if you decide to delete the app from your phone. If you want to completely delete your data, you can go into the app and ask the company to do so, but it’s not exactly an easy process.
Analysts and cybersecurity experts also warn of potential risks to user privacy and national security since personal data of millions of people could be vulnerable to threats of misuse later on. A clear red flag is a clause in the terms and conditions of FaceApp which says users give Face-App “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license” to use photos they upload – Economic Times
Should You Download and Use the App?
Well, the answer to this lies with individuals. However, it is recommended that you read and understand the terms of service before you download the app (and of course any app) onto your smartphone. Officially, FaceApp says it does not sell the data or photo info the app collects to anyone, including the Russian government.
Android Authourity adds that, while there have been some privacy concerns, it appears FaceApp doesn’t offer any increased risks compared to similar AI-based photo editing app. On the other hand, using any kind of app that logs onto a remote server and access and stores your data can possibly result in that information being taken by outside forces like cybercriminals. The choice is yours.