Two years ago, FaceApp took the internet by storm over its feature to edit selfies or portraits using neural networks. It allowed users to add a smile, swap genders, add a ‘hotness’ filter and even a controversial filter that allowed users to change their ethnicity. And just like every viral trend, it died down after a few weeks. Now, it’s back again after the app went through some tweaks to its old age filter that has become better.
If you’ve ever been curious about how you would age, then you may have tried FaceApp already. The AI-based photo editor has taken the internet by storm — all over again. The app, developed by Russian company Wireless Lab, is actually two years old, but was recently updated with an improved old age filter.
And that has resulted in its current viral status on social media, with even celebrities joining the #FaceAppChallenge to reveal their greyed, wrinkled appearances to the world.
While it’s all fun and games, privacy concerns are still present on how the app handles user data. The way it works is when you click a selfie or choose an image to add a filter over it, the app uploads the image to FaceApp’s servers to run it through its neural networks in order to apply the filter. The processing isn’t happening on the client-side but on the server-side which essentially means that the filters can’t be applied on the phone locally. You will need an active internet connection.
This could already freak out some of the paranoid ones but face it, that’s the only way the app works. What FaceApp could have at least done was to alert its users that their images are being uploaded to their servers for processing and be more transparent about it.
Another privacy issue under discussion in the wild is that the app uploads your camera roll. TechCrunch reported that such a thing doesn’t happen, citing Guardian app CEO Will Strafach and French security researcher Baptiste Robert.
Robert was also quick to point out that this is similar to Snapchat’s Terms and Conditions. It states: “Because Public Content is inherently public and chronicles matters of public interest, the license you grant us for this content is broader. In addition to granting us the rights mentioned in the previous paragraph, you also grant us a perpetual license to create derivative works from, promote, exhibit, broadcast, syndicate, sublicense, publicly perform, and publicly display Public Content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). To the extent it’s necessary, when you appear in, create, upload, post, or send Public Content, you also grant Snap Inc., our affiliates, and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice, including in connection with commercial or sponsored content.”
Although there’s no evidence yet to FaceApp mishandling or misusing user data, it’s still a healthy practice to take precautions before signing up to viral apps that ask for sensitive information.
The Jonas Brothers were among the first celebs to join the bandwagon.
When you take a trip to the Year 3000. pic.twitter.com/O9Dxpwj6ex
— Jonas Brothers (@jonasbrothers) July 16, 2019
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— Harsh 2.0 (@imHarshThakur7) July 16, 2019
— Kevin Clark (@vernalkick) July 15, 2019
FaceApp has already crossed 50 million downloads on Google Play Store, and users cannot seem to have enough of it. Back in 2017, Forbes had termed it a “revolutionary” selfie app.
Irrespective of the questions raised by seasoned users, FaceApp continues to grip social media. Who would have thought that the idea of old age could bring such delirious joy to people?