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Be Careful with FaceApp

A face-modification app called FaceApp went viral this past week as internet users flocked to upload photos of themselves looking older. In total, more than 100 million people have downloaded the app from the Google Play store, and it’s now the top-ranked app in the iOS App Store. And just as the popularity of the app reached its peak, news stories broke that the app was a Russian-controlled scam. While the app’s parent company is based in St. Petersburg, Russia, it doesn’t seem like the organization is run by a nefarious hacking group. What is a cause for concern, however, is the company’s terms and conditions. Here’s a snippet:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.”

All in all, these conditions are ominous to say the least. It’s unclear what the company will do with these images, but it’s suspicious to say the least. FaceApp CEO Yaroslav Goncharov claims that FaceApp deletes “most” of photos from its servers after 48 hours. But that’s similarly the vaguest kind of response possible. And perhaps most telling of all is Goncharov’s recommended process for deleting your information. “For the fastest processing, we recommend sending the requests from the FaceApp mobile app using ‘Settings->Support->Report a bug’ with the word “privacy” in the subject line. We are working on the better UI (user interface) for that.” Let’s hope that they put a real process in place, because the current one just won’t cut it. We recommend following those steps if you’re concerned. Then you should delete the app from your devices and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

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