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In the last month, our social media channels have been inundated with hilarious pictures of people’s suddenly very elderly faces. This is thanks to FaceApp, the viral new program that allows you to alter the appearance of a selfie via artificial intelligence and a selection of hyper-realistic filters. What we’ve discovered is that there is something side splittingly funny about seeing our friends’ and celebrity’s faces with a realistic ‘old-age’ filter applied to them – sagging skin, white hair, heavy wrinkles and all. It seems we’re not the only ones either; in the week of its release, the app skyrocketed to the top of the Apple Charts and has a 4.7/5 rating. So why is it that a novelty app like this one has found itself in the midst of controversy and widespread privacy concern?
If you read FaceApp’s End User License Agreement when you downloaded it (we didn’t, and you probably didn’t either), you would know that after receiving a picture your face, the app then has “perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid,” license over your image. This means that the company behind it, Wireless Lab, can basically do whatever they want with your photo. When this element of the fine print when viral, what ensued was widespread panic over privacy and security – much of this centred around the fact that app is Russian-based and owned. However, multiple security researchers have since proven that FaceApp is currently doing exactly what it claims to be with your image (applying hilariously realistic filters to it), plus it is certainly not the first app to possess this kind of EULA (Facebook’s is starkly similar). They have also publically claimed they delete most photos after 48 hours and that no information is sent to Russia – it remains on Amazon servers in the USA. So, while we should definitely have our wits about us when it comes to online data and privacy, FaceApp is probably the very least of our worries. Wear that saggy skinned, heavily wrinkled filter with pride!