FaceApp is Entertaining, But Use with Caution


FaceApp use has taken off in popularity, but few people are aware of the dangers of the terms of photo use.

FaceApp has been around since its launch in 2017, but people have only become widely aware of it since the FaceApp Challenge in July of 2019. Suddenly, everyone wanted to try it.

Celebrities like Drake, Gordon Ramsay and Stephen Colbert gave their fans a peek into the future by showing photos of themselves, computer aged by the FaceApp. The finished product looked so real that it seemed to reflect exactly how the celebrities would look.  The app is popular because it does a very good job and looks realistic, though you cannot tell if it is truly accurate.  Only time can prove the authenticity of the pictures.

FaceApp Features

FaceApp features other facial image manipulations as well. In addition to age, the app can change gender and even add facial hair and smiles. You can see what new glasses would look like, or what you would look like with glasses, and you can change hair colour on a digital picture before you spend lots of money at the hair salon and have to wait until the hair grows out if you don’t like it.

Reasons for Concern

Keep in mind – if you aren’t paying for a product, YOU are the product, that product being your identity, and even your contacts.

The terms of use of FaceApp include granting the rights to reproduce, modify, publish and share photos and other user content. Most apps have some policies that are problematic, but privacy experts say FaceApp is especially so.

FaceApp allows your photo and other content information to be shared with third parties. In addition to having permission to share, FaceApp is granted the right to use user content for commercial purposes.  After the computer AI alters your appearance, it stores your image, and while FaceApp doesn’t claim ownership of user content, it can modify, adapt and distribute it for commercial purposes. This is your face, a very personal and sensitive part of you being used in ways you have no way of anticipating.

This is nothing new. Many app companies make sure that their terms of use are comprehensive so that they can use gathered data in the future, often without knowing exactly how they will use it, but it is better to have all the data they can, and data storage is easy and cheap.

Yaroslav Goncharov, the Russian FaceApp CEO assures FaceApp users that FaceApp only uses photos that have been selected by the user, and no others, but there is a distrust of anything coming out of Russia since Russians have been seen to interfere with elections in the United States. At least, data is not transferred to Russia.

Is Privacy Important?

A three-term Ontario privacy commissioner has warned that privacy is foundational to an open society, while some users feel that there is no privacy left in the world anyway.