Over the weekend you may have noticed some of your friends participating in the “Aging Challenge” on social media. If you’re unfamiliar with this challenge, it’s where you post a photo of yourself digitally manipulated to age you to a senior citizen. How are your friends, family members, co-workers and casual acquaintances doing this? An app.
FaceApp & The Aging Challenge
Your friends are creating these aged images of themselves using a trending app called FaceApp. It, like similar products, is a photo editing application with different features that allow you to change your hair colour, make you look younger, and of course, age you.
Though FaceApp has been around since 2017, this new aging feature is bringing previous and new users to the app.
This all seems innocent and fun, but much like the 10 Year challenge we posted about not long ago, there might be some unsavory consequences of using FaceApp.
Why is it Problematic?
There are two reasons why this fun and seemingly innocent aging challenge is problematic. The first reason is similar to the concerns with the 10 year challenge – that you’re teaching AI software about your facial features, storing that data on social media
The second reason is a bit more nefarious.
To understand the concerns you have to look at who owns FaceApp and the terms and conditions you agree to when using it.
FaceApp is owned by a Russian developer called Wireless Labs. When you download and use FaceApp you are giving them control over everything you upload – FOREVER. Yes, forever.
Wireless Apps also use third-party tools to scrape more data from your device, giving them your face and personal data, essentially, for free. Even if you delete the app, your data may still live on.
While the owner says they will not sell your photos of information to other companies or interested parties, people are rightfully skeptical of a company who can claim use of your photos forever.
Cyber-security professionals have looked into FaceApp, and have determined that for now, it doesn’t look like Wireless Labs is using uploaded content. The companies server is in the US, which may put some at ease that they’re likenesses are not on a Russian server.
The fear over the Russian involvement dates back to the 2016 US presidential election cycle, where it was proven that Russian operatives interfered with the election through manipulating social media content.
You can of course risk it and add your face to the database along with many others, or you can say “no thanks,” and wait till you’re 70 to see what you’ll look like when you’re old.
Have any questions about cyber security? Reach out to TwinBytes – serving Markham, Richmond Hill and beyond.