FaceApp, the AI-powered selfie-editing app has been having another viral moment of late, but it was also noticed that the app seemed to be able to access your photos. People have been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures — and names — for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires.
More than 100,000 million people have downloaded the app from Google Play. And FaceApp is now the top-ranked app on the iOS App Store in 121 countries, according to App Annie.
Is FaceApp safe?
While according to FaceApp’s terms of service people still own their own “user content” (read: face), the company owns a never-ending and irrevocable royalty-free license to do anything they want with it, in front of whoever they wish.
“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public,” is the subsequent piece of text.
Another issue raised by FaceApp users was that the iOS app appears to be overriding settings if a user had denied access to their camera roll, after people reported they could still select and upload a photo — i.e. despite the app not having permission to access their photos.
Major concern here
The app developing company might not have any intentions to use your selfies for any malicious act however, the wording of the terms and conditions for using the app have developed a major cause of concern. There is nothing to stop the app developers from selling your photo to another party or set of parties. It can then be used for pretty much everything from advertising and training AI algorithms, somewhere in the world.
What FaceApp has to say
However, as reported in a report of TechCrunch, FaceApp claims it only uploads photos users have specifically selected for editing. Security tests have also not found evidence the app uploads a user’s entire camera roll. FaceApp goes on to specify that it “might” store the photos users have chosen to upload in the cloud for a short period, claiming this is done for “performance and traffic” — such as to make sure that a user doesn’t repeatedly upload the same photo to carry out another edit.
It also claims no user data is “transferred to Russia”, even though its R&D team is based there.
FaceApp also says users can request their data is deleted. Though it doesn’t yet have a very smooth way to do this — instead it asks users to send delete requests via the mobile app using “Settings->Support->Report a bug” with the word “privacy” in the subject line, adding that it’s “working on a better UI for that”.
You are sharing your photos with a third-party app, and being your well wisher, we suggest a bit more caution would be prudent.