The Faceapp has been blowing up all over social media recently. If you have seen some celebrities or your friends on social media posting a picture of themselves with grey hair and wrinkles with a caption of how "ugly" they will look 50 years from now, that’s what we are talking about. The images are generated with the help of multiple filters within the app that gives its users a look into how one might look when they grow old.
The app had recently gained some traction from sceptics. Keen observers have pointed out that the app is owned by Wireless Lab, a Russian-based company. By agreeing to their terms and conditions, it seems like the company has an almost unlimited access and the license to owning and using the photos uploaded onto the app.
There were also worries that once downloaded, the app can log onto other key data on users’ phones, such as location, contacts and the rest of their photo albums.
Lawmakers and politicians in the US have voiced their concerns about a possible apocalyptic data breaching incident and an infringement on national security, given the popularity the Faceapp has seen in the past few weeks.
Though the app has not given us much reason for concern with regards to Russian hackers or its usefulness to the Russian government’s database, users are still expressing grave concern about the company’s origins.
Netizens, however, should have more reason to be wary of the terms and conditions they have agreed to when downloading the app. For example, when you read the fine print (which most of us won’t), you will realize that The Faceapp is ultimately granted unlimited access to do whatever they please with your pictures with you having little to no say in any of it. It even basically bans you from taking any legal action against the company if they do end up misusing your pictures. Furthermore, they even have a clause that state that the company can change its terms anytime it wants, including demanding a download or subscription fee, and there cannot be any legal retaliation from you as a user.
It's not just the Faceapp
Though Faceapp has brought a lot of attention to privacy issues and it is heartening to see so many people gathering to discuss their privacy concerns, our attention should not concentrate and eventually dissipate with this one app. The issue is, nonetheless, an industry-wide problem.
Many other apps, including popular social media apps like Facebook and Instagram have similar terms that you have to agree to in order to use their apps for free. They have been popularly known for changing their terms and conditions to let their users know that they essentially own all of the content that is uploaded on their sites, and the actions you take on these platforms are at your own risk.
Not only must we realize that this is an ongoing perversion within the app industry, but we also need to be pointing fingers at app providers like Google and Apple who continue to allow such apps to continue to infringe on our privacy with these ridiculous terms and conditions. Stronger calls to action must be demanded from Big Tech too.
So, is the Faceapp worth the risk?
With everything that brings joy and a little fun into our lives for free, there is a price to pay. If you do not mind the equally worrying terms of Instagram and Facebook, there’d be no reason to fear the Faceapp too. What’s important is that we understand the terms of the contract we unwittingly sign in the digital age and press for greater consumer protection in the long-run. While the Faceapp may front as a harmless app for fun, future apps may not be so kind to us in the future, especially when left unregulated as they are now.
It’s still a gamble you’d have to take. With everything that’s going on in the world now, we’d think we’d like to see how we’d look when we are older when we have the chance.
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