FaceApp’s Old-Age Filter Is Back, Should I Be Worried About The Russians?

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The popular Russian-made app returns with improved AI photo-editing, but there’s a catch.

FaceApp’s infamous old-age filter is back and looking better than ever. The popular photo filter app delighted users back in 2017 with an old-age filter that gave them a clear glimpse at what time has in store. Two years later and the app has once again returned, this time with improved AI-assisted photo editing technology that provides an even more accurate portrayal of your 80-year-old self; that is if you’re willing to give up a considerable amount of access.

Available free via the App Store, FaceApp’s old-age filter is once again a hit online, with everyone from Terry Crews to Drake taking the time to post seasoned versions of themselves on social media. 

FaceApp’s Old-Age Filter Is Back, Should I Be Worried About The Russians? 1
Image Credit: Instagram @champagnepopi

Should I be concerned?

However, as with the original 2017 release, Russian-based developer Wireless Labs is drawing concerns from security experts over the amount of data users are forced to give the company in exchange for access to their app and filter.

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable… royalty-free… license to use, adapt, publish, distribute your user content… in all media formats… when you post or otherwise share,” stated UK-based Digitas strategist James Whatley in a now-deleted tweet.

Put simply, the app asks for permission to your entire photo library, at which point they would then have free range to use your likeness in any way they see fit. Unlike Apple’s first-party app, FaceApp uploads these photos to the cloud for processing, a fact that is never clearly communicated to the user in the terms and conditions. Even after you’ve deleted the app, the company would still have royalty-free access to your likeness, online handle, even your actual name.

FaceApp’s Old-Age Filter Is Back, Should I Be Worried About The Russians? 2
Image Credit: Instagram @ludacris

This could be an especially large concern for the many celebrities who’ve so far participated in the #faceappchallenge, many of whom having built their entire career around their unique image and brand.

Maybe, maybe not..

However, several other security experts have since called shenanigans on Whatley’s claim, stating that Wireless Labs only accesses photos that users have specifically selected for editing.

As pointed out by TechCrunch, however, FaceApp is able to access selected images even when a devices photo access is set to Never. While Wireless Labs has remained quiet in regards to their use of cloud servers, the company has addressed several other privacy concerns surrounding the app.

So, are Russian developers stealing your name and likeness for commercial use? The answer is unclear; regardless, the fact still remains that the rapid development of facial recognition technology will only continue to raise concerns over security. Based on the current rate of adoption, your face could soon serve as your primary access to sensitive information. Now more than ever we need to be increasingly wary of who is given access to your likeness.

Personally, I find myself continuing to gravitate away from even the more established AR and AI photo-editing apps, including Snapchat and Instagram. But, then again, I’ve never had much of a desire to see a wrinkled, sagging version of myself.





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