Was FaceApp Data Scare Underplayed or Overwrought?

The FaceApp photo filter, which uses AI to digitally age a photo subject’s face, went viral after a number of celebrities used the app to provide realistic glimpses of what they could look like in their elderly years. However, after it was discovered that the app was created in St. Petersburg, Russia, many worried about the app’s access to personal information.

The app, which offers tools that can wrinkle, beard, or otherwise alter an image, is one of the most downloaded across the globe. The company’s terms and conditions give it the right to modify, reproduce, and publish any of the images in a user’s photo gallery using its AI. That means the app maker can use a user’s name and “likeness provided” without notifying the user and retain that material even after the app is deleted.

“Russians now own all your old photos,” The New York Post proclaimed in a headline. The Democratic National Committee sent out an alert, urging staff members on presidential campaigns to delete the app.

However, some warnings may have been premature. All FaceApp features are available without a login. As a result, 99 percent of users don’t provide data that could reveal their identities. The app’s maker also claims it does not sell or share any user data and no data is transferred to Russia.

“We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud,” the company said in a statement. “The main reason for that is performance and traffic. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.”

Image by Pexels.

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