Controversial age changing app’s privacy policy is a cause for concern

Anything can trend online. The probability for silly things becoming viral is a lot higher than things that make sense. One day, netizens decide to do the ‘Bottle Cap Challenge’, other days people do ‘Fortnite Dance’ or ‘Rahul Bose Moment’. And most recently, it is editing your face into an older person. The world has been going crazy with this new tech. You use an app to take a selfie and make it old and then you share it on social media. Sigh! What started as a joke has soon become a breach of privacy as reports have surged that the app now contains all informations of people who used it (over 150 million according to Install analytics). Talk about 1984 by George Orwell!

* What the App?
FaceApp is an app available for iOS and Android developed by Russian company Wireless Lab. The company claims to use artificial intelligence to ‘generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs’. All you need to do is just upload your photo. The app then starts working its visual magic and voila, you look old. Some rendering added to your photos is wrinkled looks, grey hair, sagging skins, gaunt like sulken cheeks and dark bags under eyes. It is crazy to look at an older version of yourself as the image is so realistic. You can’t help but appreciate the app’s technology.

* Viral fodder
The app and #Agechallenge started gaining popularity once images of celebrities looking old swarmed social media. From cricketers to celebs, almost every famous person’s face was turned old. WhatsApp chat room, Twitter and Instagram poured with ‘old’ photos. And then the rumours spread like wildfire. Concerns surrounded regarding the app’s idea of security and its privacy policy.

 

Reports appeared that the App collected data of users who download and siphon off their information to servers in Russia. You can imagine how the net would have reacted when Russia and privacy policy breached the digital arena. Forbes reported that Faceapp founder, Yaroslav Goncharov said user data and uploaded images ‘were not being transferred to Russia but instead processed on servers running in the Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services’. The sense of skepticism echoed among politicians and security experts too. This now leads to another question: How to stay safe?

* Precautions
In an era of constantly depending on the Internet for survival, information is the ultimate wealth for tech giants. They are used to manipulate our online behavorial patterns. Thus it becomes essential to safeguard our online privacy. Before downloading any app, it is extremely important to go through their privacy policy and conditions. Once downloaded be cautious on what permissions you are willing to allow.

 

A prompt box appears requesting for permission to access images from gallery, use camera and other such data stored in your phone. It is also important not to sign in using your personal social media account like Facebook to create accounts on apps like Faceapp.

Mohammed Rayaan