FaceApp’s Russian Connection: Is it Actually Dangerous?
By Izatt Folkman
FaceApp recently came back into vogue after going viral for the first time in 2017. FaceApp uses AI to alter a person’s face with various filters (Giancaspro). This time around, however, many people began to realize that FaceApp was collecting metadata on all of the pictures they were uploading to the app for image processing. One of the main concerns of the app was that there was evidence that the app did all image processing server-side, giving FaceApp access to copies of pictures uploaded to it. These concerns were further exacerbated when consumers found out that FaceApp was created by a Russian company owned by a previous executive of Yandex. The CEO of the FaceApp company assured the media that FaceApp does send data to Russia, and evidence suggests that this is true (Carman).
While there were many people who had fun with FaceApp, most of the immediate panic associated with it came when another developer posted a tweet warning others that FaceApp might keep the pictures that people have uploaded to the app (Brewster). While the developer warned that FaceApp was taking all photos on a user’s device, research concluded that only pictures being submitted were stored.
While this is an issue with FaceApp, the bigger issue is that many people download the app without finding information about what is being done with their data. Many people were alarmed that they were being compromised, and while there was a similar difficulty with FaceApp in 2017, though another face collecting app at the time was vastly more compromising than FaceApp, which led to news about FaceApp being overshadowed (Chakrabarti). Many people have continued to send requests about their privacy to FaceApp, but FaceApp is having a hard time keeping up with all of the requests.
Brewster, Thomas. “FaceApp: Is The Russian Face-Aging App A Danger To Your Privacy?” Forbes. July 17, 2019. Accessed August 08, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2019/07/17/faceapp-is-the-russian-face-aging-app-a-danger-to-your-privacy/#4366db432755.
Carman, Ashley. “FaceApp Is Back and so Are Privacy Concerns.” The Verge. July 17, 2019. Accessed August 08, 2019. https://www.theverge.com/2019/7/17/20697771/faceapp-privacy-concerns-ios-android-old-age-filter-russia.
Chakrabarti, Meghna. “FaceApp: Age Your Photos – And Compromise Your Privacy?” FaceApp: Age Your Photos – And Compromise Your Privacy? | On Point. July 22, 2019. Accessed August 08, 2019. https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/07/22/faceapp-aging-photos-russia-privacy-security.
Dachis, Adam. “Is FaceApp Safe to Use?” ExtremeTech. July 29, 2019. Accessed August 08, 2019. https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/295777-is-faceapp-safe-to-use.
Giancaspro, Mark. “Worried About FaceApp Stealing Your Data? That’s Not The Creepiest Part of Their Fine Print.” ScienceAlert. July 23, 2019. Accessed August 08, 2019. https://www.sciencealert.com/scared-of-faceapp-stealing-your-data-it-s-not-the-creepiest-part-of-their-fine-print.