How FaceApp suddenly became viral again, and why it might be worrying


If your social media timelines haven’t been taken over by people making themselves look older or younger using an app called FaceApp recently, then where have you been? There’s something pretty amazing and futuristic about technology that has the ability to make you look as though you’ve either aged 50 years or are fresh out of the womb, but is there a more sinister side to this seemingly harmless app?

FaceApp

You might remember the Russian app being everywhere in 2017, with the ability to add facial hair, manipulate a smile, or even simply make you look more attractive, using neural networks. Although there have been plenty of apps that claimed to do these sorts of things to photographs, most of them are horrifically bad, whereas FaceApp keeps the picture photorealistic, and this is where its power lies. The hype died down for a while, but earlier in 2019, it was back with a vengeance with everyone from the Jonas brothers to Drake seeing how they might look when they’re older.

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Photo uploads

It seems that FaceApp actually stores your uploaded photos on their own servers to save bandwidth, although the company does claim that they are deleted soon after. That said, there is no proof of these being removed, although as a user, you can send through a request to have your photo deleted manually.

So what’s the big deal?

Of course, in 2019 we are constantly uploading photos of our faces to servers of huge companies such as Facebook and Google, so why are tech experts particularly cautious about this app saving them? Well, with FaceApp being Russia-based, and Russia and the USA not exactly being on great terms right now, it could be a little questionable to share this information with their country’s security services. That said, the app claims that no user data is actually transferred to Russia, only user metrics.

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Should you be worried?

Well, we should certainly be a little wary about things like this in general. Technology is fantastic, but the information that we share with it can be pretty scary. Apps like this, including Snapchat, which maps your face in such detail, could be opening us up to issues in the future, especially if we are using our faces as a way to unlock devices as we increasingly seem to be. That said, there is nothing specifically to worry about with FaceApp unless the claims that data is shared with Russia is actually true.

It’s easy to get caught up with the negativity and worries around things like this, and don a tinfoil hat, being paranoid that everything is out to get you. That said, it’s equally easy to bury your head in the sand and blindly engage in everything the internet and tech have to offer without checking the small print. Essentially, there is a middle ground that involves some independent research and weeding out of fake news. Watching too many episodes of ‘Black Mirror’ can leave you feeling a little jaded, and we wouldn’t be surprised if this was the basis for an episode on the next season, however that doesn’t mean you need to delete the app immediately and hide in a bunker.

Go ahead and take some photos of yourself looking like your grandma.