Would you relinquish your privacy to look old? Don’t use FaceApp

Jul 23, 2019

Allen Murabayashi

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

Would you relinquish your privacy to look old? Don’t use FaceApp

Jul 23, 2019

Allen Murabayashi

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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Every once in a while, a “fun” website or app that requires us to upload a photo of ourselves goes viral. In 2015, it was Microsoft’s How-Old.net, which would guess your age based on a selfie. It turned out to be a showcase for Microsoft’s facial recognition technology.

Microsoft’s “How-Old” website guesses your age after you upload a selfie

Amazon followed in 2017 with its version that showcased its Rekognition API – the same controversial technology used by law enforcement, often under ambiguous circumstances.

In 2019, social media is awash with “aged photos” courtesy of the FaceApp Old filter. What do we know about FaceApp?

  • It requires your Facebook login
  • By using a Facebook federated login, FaceApp receives your name, profile picture, photos and email address
  • The company’s privacy policy ambiguously states how it can share data with its “Affiliates”
  • The company is based in  Petersburg, Russia

Like many apps and websites, the Facebook federated login grants FaceApp an enormous amount of data. Your email can be used in combination with other data brokers to find out who you are, where you live, and other demographic information. Granting access to all your photos allows this personal information to be combined with highly accurate facial recognition.

I have no proof that FaceApp has any affiliation with the Russian government or intelligence agencies. But it’s not a stretch given that ICE and the FBI are already using driver license images to build law enforcement databases of people not even suspected of crimes (e.g. you) without consent.

Even if the intent is less nefarious (e.g. they’re selling data to a marketing aggregation data broker), the trade-off of your privacy for a simulation of your older self is a poor one. Don’t succumb to the novelty.

If you really want to know what you’ll look like when you’re old, just take a look at your parents.

About the Author

Allen Murabayashi is a graduate of Yale University, the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter blog, and a co-host of the “I Love Photography” podcast on iTunes. For more of his work, check out his website and follow him on Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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25 responses to “Would you relinquish your privacy to look old? Don’t use FaceApp”

  1. Thomas Greinke Avatar
    Thomas Greinke

    Posted on FB…

  2. Lubo Sentry Hrivnak Avatar
    Lubo Sentry Hrivnak

    No privacy problems, stop hoax

    1. John Woodhead Avatar
      John Woodhead

      Lubo Sentry Hrivnak read the terms and conditions. They own the rights to every image uploaded. Which is millions.

      1. Marko Avatar
        Marko

        FAcebook owns the rights to all the photos you uploaded. Don’t be naive and fall for this fear mongering.

    2. Lubo Sentry Hrivnak Avatar
      Lubo Sentry Hrivnak

      John Woodhead every app from store want to have access to your gallery etc. Do u think americans will use those pics for something?

    3. John W. O'Brien III Avatar
      John W. O’Brien III

      John Woodhead read every TOS of every app on your phone…..

    4. Scott Rivera Avatar
      Scott Rivera

      Faceapp has a TOS that is the same as ANY social media application, they have to state such terms in order to be able to let you distribute your images of yourself and make a profit from doing so. Otherwise they like other social media apps would open themselves up to litigation

    5. Tom Connor Avatar
      Tom Connor

      Lubo Sentry Hrivnak they essentially modify your photo, with your permission, and therefore it becomes their artwork in a way. So theoretically they own the rights to the modified image.

      1. Marko Avatar
        Marko

        And Google, Facebook, Instagram etc., don’t? Seriously?

  3. Tracy Carncross Avatar
    Tracy Carncross

    The article is wrong, it does not require your FB login. I’ve used it and didn’t login though that option is there.

  4. Jolyon Ralph Avatar
    Jolyon Ralph

    Well, seeing as I’ve visited Russia several times and they’ve scanned my passport they already have my facial biometrics, so I’m safe:)

  5. Mimika Avatar
    Mimika

    “These Terms and your access to and use of our Services will begoverned by and construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of California…” (from faceAppTofU). S.-Petersburg also is mentioned, indeed.

    But in general I agree – don’t be naive over this moment of laugh. At least read what rights you wave and note, they claim this permission to be irrevocable, perpetual, and so on.

  6. Scott Rivera Avatar
    Scott Rivera

    Exactly, what hypocrisy to share a privacy clickbait scare article on Facebook, that collects 10X more Personal Identification Information (PII) and has shown time and again that it leaked or shared that data

  7. Bhavin Shah Avatar
    Bhavin Shah

    I thought they are stealing my face credentials to use it as a way to unlocking my iPhone, hacking faceid? Now that would make a scary headline, everything else mentioned here was already compromised when we signed up for Facebook, or otherwise hacked and sold to Russians way back.

  8. Michael McLaughlin Avatar
    Michael McLaughlin

    The photos are deleted from their site after 48 hours.

  9. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    Quite honestly, I got nothing I hide. What do they want with my 80 year old predicted portrait

  10. Marko Avatar
    Marko

    Don’t use FaceApp? Why? Because it’s Russian? It’s OK for American companies (Facebook, Youtube, Google, Instagram and many more) to have my photos, use them without my permission and sell my info to the highest bidder, AND supply it all to the US government, but FaceApp is the dangerous one?

    The onslaught of American media on anything that is not American is pathetic. American tech is losing ground and instead of competing it tries to bash, belittle and delegitimize the competition. Good luck.

  11. Craig Pifer Avatar
    Craig Pifer

    Like most of these “crazes”, I learned about it well after everyone else, and I still have absolutely no interest in trying it out. I’ve got enough junk apps as it is, don’t need to add another.

  12. Grant Nelson Avatar
    Grant Nelson

    I already look old enough.

  13. Jeff Tunison Avatar
    Jeff Tunison

    My FaceApp

  14. Kath Davis Avatar
    Kath Davis

    Don’t need it. I have a mirror. Now an app that makes me look 20 again….

    1. Del Robertson Somerville Avatar
      Del Robertson Somerville

      I seen one that somebody was using on reddit to make the cast of The Walking Dead look younger… can’t remember name of app though….

    2. Kath Davis Avatar
      Kath Davis

      Del Robertson Somerville I’ve seen one that “zombie-fys” you

  15. Del Robertson Somerville Avatar
    Del Robertson Somerville

    Privacy already relinquished using facebook, instagram & Whatsapp. One could simply stop using the internet and go live in the wild if they want total privacy.

  16. Deacon Blues Avatar
    Deacon Blues

    So apart from the usual “OHMYGODRUSSIA” panic, this is basically no different than any other social media crap.