The Russia-based Photo Filter app “FaceApp” has made a return to the world and is under the spotlight this week with its new filter that makes users look older or younger. Earlier in 2017, FaceApp went viral with its face filters to modify a face on any photo while keeping it photorealistic.
However, with the last viral moment, this time users are surprised that the app’s creators are picking up metadata from their photos.
App researchers found that the FaceApp isn’t doing anything exceptionally unusual in either its code or its network traffic, so there is nothing to worry about the FaceApp, major other apps on your phone are doing the same thing. FaceApp never says that it’s downloading the filtered photo, but it’s not unusual, as iOS researcher and CEO of Guardian Firewall Will Strafach noted on Twitter.
Yaroslav Goncharov, an ex-Yandex executive, and CEO of the Russian company that created the app previously told The Verge that photos uploaded to the app are stored on the company’s servers to save bandwidth if several filters are applied and that they get deleted not long after.
FaceApp told TechCrunch in a statement that it accepts requests from users to remove their data from its servers. The team is currently “overloaded,” but users can send the request through Setting>Support>Report a bug with the word “privacy” in the subject line.
But we are not sure that the company deletes users photos or not, but it’s all sure that users are uploading photos of their faces to the company’s servers all the time since it’s a Russia-based app and, and thereby inherits ill will because of Americans’ perception of the country.
Researcher Jane Wong also publicized her findings around FaceApp and noted that she wished users could delete their own data, although it now seems they can issue a request.
Raising concerns over FaceApp:
US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons to look into the app’s data handling practices.
FaceApp might not be a major privacy concern, but as with any app, there are always trade-offs. If you want to see what you could look like at 80 years old, you have to forfeit your photo, which includes your face.