By the beginning of the day yesterday, I was hearing about the new craze started by FaceApp that allowed you to see what you’d look like when you’re older. By the middle of the day, I heard about how it was a Russian company and perhaps shouldn’t be trusted. By the time I got around to working on this story, I realized how little most people realize about what they’re already doing on social media.
There’s a lot about pop culture that makes me wonder, but independent of the Russian thing, why anyone wants to share pictures of what they’d theoretically look like when they’re old is one I really don’t understand. Nevertheless, yes, if you use FaceApp to age yourself you’re granting permission to a Russian company to have ownership of the pictures stored on their server. Furthermore, they could use those images however they see fit. In the age of facial ID for security settings on digital devices that might be something that someone with ill-intent might be able to use to compromise you or even steal your identity online if they’re devious and savvy enough.
Here’s the thing. The only thing that’s different about FaceApp, and say Facebook, is that Facebook is based in the US and FaceApp is based in Russia. Other than the legal teams at social media companies, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who has read through user agreements for social media services. Anyway, if you use any you’ve agreed that any images you upload to their platforms are owned by them. Remember, when you’re not paying for a service, you’re the product. Now, it’s probably not good business for Facebook, for example, to randomly use your images for their own purposes but they could. You granted them that permission. Along with every other major social platform in the US.
At that point, the only question is whether you trust Zuckerberg and Facebook more than the random Russians on the back end of FaceApp.
Photo by: KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP/Getty Images