Would You Relinquish Your Privacy to Look Old? Don’t Use FaceApp

Would You Relinquish Your Privacy to Look Old? Don’t Use FaceApp

Every once in a while, a “fun” website or app that requires us to upload a photo of ourselves goes viral. In 2015, it was Microsoft’s How-Old.net, which would guess your age based on a selfie. It turned out to be a showcase for Microsoft’s facial recognition technology.

Microsoft’s “How-Old” website guesses your age after you upload a selfie

Amazon followed in 2017 with its version that showcased its Rekognition API – the same controversial technology used by law enforcement, often under ambiguous circumstances.

In 2019, social media is awash with “aged photos” courtesy of the FaceApp Old filter. What do we know about FaceApp?

  • It requires your Facebook login
  • By using a Facebook federated login, FaceApp receives your name, profile picture, photos and email address
  • The company’s privacy policy ambiguously states how it can share data with its “Affiliates”
  • The company is based in St. Petersburg, Russia

Like many apps and websites, the Facebook federated login grants FaceApp an enormous amount of data. Your email can be used in combination with other data brokers to find out who you are, where you live, and other demographic information. Granting access to all your photos allows this personal information to be combined with highly accurate facial recognition.

I have no proof that FaceApp has any affiliation with the Russian government or intelligence agencies. But it’s not a stretch given that ICE and the FBI are already using driver license images to build law enforcement databases of people not even suspected of crimes (e.g. you) without consent.

Even if the intent is less nefarious (e.g. they’re selling data to a marketing aggregation data broker), the trade-off of your privacy for a simulation of your older self is a poor one. Don’t succumb to the novelty.

If you really want to know what you’ll look like when you’re old, just take a look at your parents.

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 20 comments for this article
    • Patrick at 4:49 pm

      Doesn’t require your Facebook login and they’re not located in St Petersburg Russia. They’re located in Wilmington, DE. I don’t know where you get your resources from but, I would get rid of this article ASAP. Your credibility isn’t looking too good. Not tell you what to do, just giving you some friendly advice.

    • Greg at 11:46 am

      So you’re saying, is these guys are doing exactly what the U.S. government, it’s agencies, and Silicon Valley have been doing for years. Gee – do I want my face on a Russian database or NSA’s / Google’s?

  1. Corina Daniela Obertas at 11:13 am

    I have told the same to many of my friends on Facebook two days ago and yesterday when I saw what they do. They didn’t listen of course. Now I’m happy that you have written an article about it and I have shared it.

    • Joy at 4:10 pm

      The very first thing you have to do is allow access to your photos. Then you can log in with Facebook or another social media site. This is more Russian bot crap like we dealt with in 2016.

  2. Sarah Evans at 1:14 pm

    FaceApp does not require Facebook log in. Have you checked this? It does not require you to relinquish your email address in order to use any of the free features, including the old filter.

  3. Garrison at 2:49 pm

    Oh look, another bs scare article that isn’t even correct about a key part of the app it is talking about. Weak.

  4. thebronze at 4:40 pm

    “FaceApp does not require Facebook log in. Have you checked this? It does not require you to relinquish your email address in order to use any of the free features, including the old filter.”

    You people are SO DUMB.

    You gave it access to ALL of that when you granted it access to your facebook acct!!!

  5. Jens Olsen at 5:12 pm

    You don’t need to provide FaceApp with your Facebook login. Once you have installed the app it already have access to all your content, even the content that’s clearly marked “Only me” like your phone number, email address and other relatively private info. And once you have installed the app, you have accepted their terms of service which clearly state that they can use your content for commercial use.

    • Amber at 9:22 am

      EXACTLY!!! It may not ask for you to login to Facebook but it asks for all other permissions and gaining entrance to your fb account is one of them.

      ReAdInG iS fUnDaMeNtAl, people ‍♀️

  6. Julia Z at 7:48 pm

    Allen, thank you for this post. I love my Photoshelter even though it’s been a few years since my site has lived in your system. <3

    That said, FaceApp/What'sApp/Instagram/Facebook – already have access to the information we're so fervently discussing above.
    If we're talking about privacy, that's been an illusion for more than 10 years. Remember the uproar about Facebook's Terms of Service? This is not a new issue. Anyone who wants personal information regardless of their location, country of origin and company registration can get it – we have all the tools to do that online.
    I'm interested to see how the illusion of privacy will be affected once Congress begins its efforts to regulate Facebook. That's a discussion I'm curious to participate in 🙂

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