FaceApp is back! But 'old age' app could be breaching your privacy

Amelia Heathman

People across the internet have been having fun with the latest social media craze: FaceApp.

The app, which originally launched back in 2017, has gone viral thanks to an Age Challenge which involves using the app to augment your face to look like an old person. It uses artificial intelligence to edit a picture in your phone gallery and transforms the image into someone double or triple your age.

Everyone from Drake, to Piers Morgan and Miley Cyrus have undergone the ageing treatment.

And whilst the AI-influenced makeovers are funny and eerily correct, using the FaceApp means you might be giving away more than you thought.

Twitter user James Whatley posted an excerpt from the terms and conditions of the app and it makes for some uncomfortable reading. By using the app, essentially, people are giving FaceApp access to use, modify, adapt and publish any images of you that you offer up in exchange for its AI modification magic.

FaceApp is allowed to use your name, username or any likeness provided in any media format it likes without compensation, meaning you will not be paid for it, or have any ability to take it down or complain about it.

This is also because FaceApp uploads your photo to the cloud for processing, it doesn’t carry out on-device processing like many apps do. After doing so, it retains the image long after you’ve deleted the app and moved on to the next viral sensation. People using the app are not made aware of this.

According to TechCrunch, the app is able to access Photos on Apple’s iOS platform even if a user has set photo permissions to “never”. This isn’t a good sign either.

Incidences like this demonstrate how much information people are giving away on the internet by using a “free” service. Sure it’s fun to see what your face will look like in 30 years’ time but by leaving little nuggets of information about yourself across the web, it all adds up to a digital footprint.

FaceApp uses AI to transform your face into what you may look like in the future (FaceApp)

According to Becky Pinkard, VP of Intel and IT at security company Digital Shadows, digital footprints are becoming more important as a result of social media and the like. “What we’ve seen now is this hyper-speed evolution of being to share data and link to other people’s data. So not only do you have the opportunity to share too much about yourself, someone else can actually share too much of your data too,” she told the Standard.

So, next time a new meme or craze rolls around, be sure to look a little closer and read between the lines – you might be offering up more than you thought.