FaceApp: Is the Russian app a threat to our privacy?
FaceApp dates back to 2017. After two years, the app is being reborn. You probably know a celebrity, acquaintances or friends that have used it in recent weeks. Maybe you’re using it yourself. But with all the fun and laughter the Face-Aging function brings, Twitter users raised concerns which spread all over the world in a few hours.
Because the app comes from Russia, a mild paranoia emerged about how the users’ information could be used or abused. Recently, we have witnessed an affair surrounding Facebook having to pay penalty of over 5 billion euros. Many people agree that this only served as a distraction for the public and that the private information of over 87 million users are worth a lot more, so the penalty should have been way heavier. The government even urges Facebook to sell Instagram and Whatsapp.
And now there’s an app which conquered the world and has over 150 million users. Users have willingly agreed to give the app (which allegedly uses highly advanced artificial intelligence) access to their personal information, notably pictures. At the same time, users are asked to renounce all rights to the pictures. In theory that means that a picture you used on the app, could one day end up in an advertisement and there’s nothing in it for you. What’s more, you’d have no leg to stand on if you complained, because you agreed to it before using the app.
But all this anti-propaganda that paints the app as evil, is a bit far-fetched. Facebook, Instagram and many other apps you keep on your smartphone have similar terms and conditions. Therefore, most of these apps access your personal information with your permission. This becomes a problem when the information is used unethically.
For now, we can only say that the main reason for the uproar is that the app comes from Russia, which has servers in the US as well as for example, in Singapore. Is the West scared of the ‘communist’ East? Is the negative propaganda being spread on purpose or is all of it true and Russia is interested in collecting our information? It’s a matter of opinion and a paradise for conspiracy theorists. But all the media fuss aside – there is no evidence of violating the rules of handling private information and the activities of the company are very transparent.
Author: Benjamin Hrkič, 19.7.2019