FaceApp Raises Privacy Concerns About Social Media

“In all likelihood, the information uploaded by FaceApp is already available somewhere else on the internet, whether it is being used for surveillance, AI training, or another purpose…”

#FaceAppChallenge Raises Privacy Concerns About Social Media

The viral sensation FaceApp came under scrutiny in the wake of the #FaceAppChallenge, which flooded social media with aged-up photos created with the app. As it became more popular, there were reports that FaceApp was automatically uploading every photo on user phones and stealing copious amounts of data, stoking paranoia once it was revealed that FaceApp’s developer is based in Russia.

Thankfully, the controversy seems to have been overstated. Several outlets have now confirmed that FaceApp only collects photos that have been directly uploaded by users, and that it does not mine personal information beyond the device ID and model. In that regard, the terms of use are comparable to other social media apps, which means FaceApp doesn’t seem to be any better or worse than most of the alternatives.

That’s not to say that the app is harmless. FaceApp is still collecting millions of photos, building a database that can be packaged and resold for profit at some point in the future.

The key takeaway is that FaceApp is engaging in the same behavior as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and other American tech companies. Amazon, for instance, is currently facing a class-action lawsuit for storing audio recordings of children without proper consent, while Google had to release a statement after a language expert leaked Dutch audio that was being used to improve its speech recognition technology.

In all likelihood, the information uploaded by FaceApp is already available somewhere else on the internet, whether it is being used for surveillance, AI training, or another purpose. FaceApp is not uniquely dangerous, but the controversy is a good reminder that privacy intrusions have become more and more common, and people should be more aware about how their data is being used.

Sources: CBC, The Guardian