Nobody (or almost nobody) likes that the effects of inevitable aging (and thank you) are noticeable on their face and body. But curiosity kills us and FaceApp, the famous application that ages you through photos , has become a true viral phenomenon.
But beware, FaceApp is not a new application. Although it has gone viral in recent days, the tool was born in 2017. Even then it made people retouch their photos to make them older , younger, to turn them into a man or a woman or to add a smile that they did not have in the original photo.
The fact is that in recent weeks, the application has returned to the arena of the most downloaded after some celebrities happened to publish their aging faces on social networks. People did not take long to imitate them, so at this time, FaceApp is the most downloaded free application in both the App Store and the Google Play Store .
But in the last hours, along with the success, those responsible for this application have also been involved in a controversy. A controversy linked to the privacy and security of users who happily access this tool and who probably do not know who or how they manage their private images. We go deep into exploring this tricky question.View this post on Instagram
I will be safe and hopefully, a wise and happy old lady and I will continue working, God willing, older but beautiful
A post shared by Lolita Gonzalez Flores (@lolitafoficial) on Jul 16, 2019 at 3:41 pm PDT
How does FaceApp work?
Lets start by the beginning. If you still do not know FaceApp (which would be strange), we will tell you that it is an application that in recent days has gone viral and has moved to the first position in the list of most downloaded apps of the two main stores of iOS and Android .
What this application does is apply some filters on our snapshots (usually taken at the moment or rescued from the gallery or from social networks), so that our face can age or rejuvenate. You can also apply other options, such as hair dye, smiles that were not there or a series of characteristics that are paid and for which the user must, inevitably, pony up .
That's it. To achieve this, FaceApp makes use of so-called artificial intelligence . To achieve this, the image is uploaded to the application servers and then the effects are applied. And here is the problem: the granting of permissions so that those responsible for this application can freely dispose of the capture and use it for their own purposes.
Who is behind this application?
If FaceApp owners can keep our captures, who exactly are they? The alarms were set off, among others, by journalists from The New York Times. One article read: "Now Russians own your old photos."
Thanks to the #FaceAppChallenge started by some celebrities, FaceApp has managed to amass more than 80 million users worldwide. The application, which is indeed of Russian origin, belongs to the Wireless Lab company and its manager is an engineer named Yaroslav Goncharov .
The headquarters are in Saint Petersburg itself, although the truth is that in many places, it appears located in Wilmington, Delaware (United States), a state commonly used as a tax shelter .View this post on Instagram
Summer of 2059 !!! #David Bisbal
A post shared by Davidbisbal (@davidbisbal) on Jul 16, 2019 at 6:29 am PDT
The conditions that the user accepts
The alarms went off this week, when the tweeter and expert Joshua Nozzi questioned the operation of this successful application. He realized that FaceApp had access to all the images that our mobile phones contain, regardless of whether we have uploaded them or not, and that it could be downloading all the photos captured from our device without any warning to users.
However, subsequent research revealed that this would not be entirely true. It seems that in reality, FaceApp does not have access to all our photos , but only to those that have been uploaded to the servers and have been used in a specific way to apply the old or young filters.
As if this were not enough and contrary to what was thought at first, most of the servers that FaceApp uses are not in Russia, but in America. It seems that the company's servers are in Amazon's data centers and even Google's, which has them in countries like Ireland and Singapore.
However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the company is based in Saint Petersburg. And that therefore, the processed images could end up being seen in Russia, if the company's workers rescue these photos to see them on Russian computers . However, there is no information on what kind of access FaceApp employees can have to these images.
In this sense, it must be said, it would not be complicated for the Russian intelligence services or the police itself to obtain these images, if they so requested from the company. What would be more difficult, there is no doubt about that, is that those same services could demand the same from Amazon , which is the owner of the servers in the United States.
I have done the FaceApp with some celebrities and this has been the result (Pt 1 Viejxs) pic.twitter.com/Xmfxb0ySaq
- Rafa Skywalker💫💥 (@ _Rafa_1998) July 17, 2019
So can I keep using FaceApp or not?
We will not be the ones to offer you a resounding answer to all this. You see that this is a very complex matter, from which we cannot draw a clear conclusion. The experts are clear about it. At Kaspersky, for example, they tell us how dangerous it is to upload content to the cloud .
The conditions of use of the application specifically talk about the possibility that the information of users is transferred to third parties, if FaceApp considers it appropriate and necessary to provide the service . And this is undoubtedly too lax a condition not to pay due attention to.
What usually happens is that users, out of curiosity to see their aging faces, download the application without paying attention to the conditions and permissions they grant. As if this were not enough, in FaceApp you can upload, not only your photo, but that of all those people you want to see with their faces changed , which without a doubt, and taking into account the realism of its effects, can be so dangerous as offensive.