SALT LAKE CITY — If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve probably wondered what made the world age by 50 years.
Recently, a slew of social media members (including this reporter) have shared photos of themselves with an age filter by using the app FaceApp, which is available for free in the app store. Celebrities and athletes have jumped in on the app’s virality.
But the app may not be all that it seems. Experts have shared details about the app that may make you cautious about hopping right into the most-recent social media trending.
Scott Budman, a tech reporter for NBC News, wrote on Twitterthat the FaceApp comes around every few years for a viral 15 minutes of fame. And every time, the events are the same:
- “Every few years, the #FaceApp comes around. It’s fun. It draws a lot of people in. But, it also captures your face along with some of your private data. It doesn’t tell us what it does with that data. Be careful,” he wrote.
#Warning: Every few years, the #FaceApp comes around.— scott budman (@scottbudman) July 17, 2019
It draws a lot of people in.
But, it also captures your face along with some of your private data.
It doesn't tell us what it does with that data.
Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, a lawyer and founder of EPW Small Business Law, wrote on Twitter that anyone who uses FaceApp is “giving them a license to use your photos, your name, your username, and your likeness for any purpose including commercial purposes (like on a billboard or internet ad).”
She posted a screenshot of FaceApp’s terms and conditions, which includes a section that says users “grant FaceApp consent to use the User Content.”
The terms also indicate that users give up “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display” your content.
If you use #FaceApp you are giving them a license to use your photos, your name, your username, and your likeness for any purpose including commercial purposes (like on a billboard or internet ad) -- see their Terms: https://t.co/e0sTgzowoN pic.twitter.com/XzYxRdXZ9q— Elizabeth Potts Weinstein (@ElizabethPW) July 17, 2019
Other worries: Social media has also expressed worry that the app is owned by a Russian company called Wireless Lab.
In fact, the company’s address reads as “Wireless Lab OOO. 16 Avtovskaya 401. Saint-Petersburg, 198096, Russia.”
Other social media members have expressed a similar concern.
Btw you all know FaceApp is a Russian company, right?— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) July 17, 2019
Just making sure.
Proceed with caution, comrades. pic.twitter.com/o2T2S3dP91— Michele Steele (@MicheleSteele) July 17, 2019
ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis explained that the app, though free in the app store, isn’t really free.
- “You’re getting the access to your phone so all of your contacts, all of your pictures. Once you allow that you are giving away everything,” Jarvis said, according to ABC News. “That’s how they’re paying for it, free isn’t actually free, they’re giving away your information.”
Ariel Hochstadt, a security expert from vpnMentor blog and ex-Gmail marketing manager for Google, told the UK’s Daily Mail that he’s worried about similar apps in the past.
- “Hackers many time are able to record the websites that people visit, and the activities they perform in those websites, but they don’t always know who are those users,” he said.
- “Imagine now they used the phone’s camera to secretly record a young gay person, that visits gay sites, but didn’t yet go public with that, and they connect his face with the websites he is using,” he said. “They also know who this image is, with the huge DB they created of FB accounts and faces, and the data they have on that person is both private and accurate to the name, city and other details found on FB.”