You've heard of FaceApp
, haven't you? How could you not when all media outlets report these days that someone actually sat and read the app permissions T&C. If not, a primer - FaceApp takes your pretty visage, and can fast forward your skin's collagen and hair's melanin content decrease to portray how you'd look like when wisdom strikes.
It can also make you younger or swap your gender identity but it's the fear of the feeble future that has made users flock to its evidently good algorithms for quality guesswork on how you'd age.
Perfecting those algorithm has come with a cost, though - the app has a pretty liberal permissions policy
when it comes to using the images you upload and, since the founder is Russian, that has sent the collective punditry on a collu
ision course yet again.
Founder Yaroslav Goncharov had to go into explanation mode, probed by multiple media inquiries, and released a statement
addressing all those sudden privacy and security concerns point by point.
1. FaceApp performs most of the photo processing in the cloud. We only upload a photo selected by a user for editing. We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud.
2. We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.
3. We accept requests from users for removing all their data from our servers. Our support team is currently overloaded, but these requests have our priority. For the fastest processing, we recommend sending the requests from the FaceApp mobile app using “Settings->Support->Report a bug” with the word “privacy” in the subject line. We are working on the better UI for that.
4. All FaceApp features are available without logging in, and you can log in only from the settings screen. As a result, 99% of users don’t log in; therefore, we don’t have access to any data that could identify a person.
5. We don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties.
6. Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.Additionally, we’d like to comment on one of the most common concerns: all pictures from the gallery are uploaded to our servers after a user grants access to the photos (for example, https://twitter.com/joshuanozzi/status/1150961777548701696). We don’t do that. We upload only a photo selected for editing. You can quickly check this with any of network sniffing tools available on the internet.
Needless to say, even though FaceApp basically uses Amazon and Google servers for the crunching, a few political points can and will be scored over the Wikipedia-derived Russian address of FaceApp's HQ. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer didn't let a good controversy go to waste, immediately advised Democrats against using the app, and is gunning for an FBI probe into face-swapping:
Given the brouhaha around FaceApp which has been a popular app for a good while now, we wanted to ask whether you share the Senate Minority Leader's concerns that Russians are after your pretty face for nefarious purposes, or would you continue using FaceApp relatively unfazed by the possibility.