SINGAPORE: First it was a sex-bending feature in Snapchat, and now FaceApp is actively using social media when users are happy to turn their faces into younger or older versions.
FaceApp, which was launched by the Russian publisher Wireless Lab in 2017, uses artificial intelligence to change users ‘ photos, change the color of their hair, add wrinkles or subtract years from their faces
It’s currently the most downloaded free app on Google Play store with over 100 million users after its new outdated filter has piqued the interest of celebrities including music superstar Drake and NBA champion Stef Curry.
However, as social media users fill their channels with these interesting selfies, is there any reason to worry about how their data is being used?
WHAT PROBLEMS FACE?
Concerns about the app and its privacy have increased over the past week.
On Monday, software developer Joshua Nozzi tweeted his concerns about the app, which were picked up by several news publications.
In an already deleted tweet, Mr. Nozzi said face app “immediately uploads” photos of users without their permission. Since then, in his blog, he explained that he was wrong in the accusation.
The provisions in the terms and conditions of the app include granting FaceApp permission to use the photos for commercial purposes.
“While this may seem confidential at first, the terms of service of some of these apps may raise some privacy concerns, as they do not provide complete clarity about what is happening behind the scenes,” said Mr. Shashwat Handelwal, McAfee’s head of consumer business in Southeast Asia. About CNA was informed in an e-mail interview.
“When users grant certain permissions through the app, the company can use the data to its own advantage,” he added.
Faceapp CEO Jaroslaw Goncharov, however, told The Washington Post that the app only downloads photos selected by the user for editing and that most photos are deleted from its servers within 48 hours.
Government agencies in Russia have no access to the photos, he told the Post, adding that the company “does not sell or share any user data with third parties.”
Instead, the app makes money with paid subscriptions to the premium feature, he said.
However, noted Mr. Shashvat, the app stores data in the cloud, and “the fact remains: FaceApp gets access to the user’s photos of its own free will.”
“Once the photo goes to FaceApp, they will decide how they will handle this content,” he said.
In addition, photos uploaded to the cloud are at risk of being vulnerable to hackers who can use them to identify individuals with the aim of compromising individuals and companies, said Mr. Alvin Rodriguez, senior Director and security strategist at Forcepoint Asia Pacific & Japan.
“A person is your personal copyright. From a security point of view, you refuse the opportunity to use your face as a password to register files or lock your devices,” he said.