If you haven’t used it already, you’ve probably seen your friends or your favorite celebrities — from Cardi B to Drake — use FaceApp this week to share what they’d look like when they’re old and gray.
FaceApp, leveraging artificial intelligence tools, allows users to upload pictures and transform their face with several filters; the aging filter has gone viral in recent days and sparked the #FaceAppChallenge. But the phenomenon, which sits atop Apple’s chart of top free apps, also raised questions about what its Russia-based developer is doing with the pictures and data users are sharing.
The app’s terms of service page appears to give Wireless Lab, headquartered in St. Petersburg, Russia, carte blanche to do whatever it wants with the pictures users upload.
“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,” the app’s terms state.
In other words: FaceApp can do essentially whatever the hell it wants with users’ pictures.
Many have already expressed concerns about a few of the app’s practices, including uploading pictures to the cloud, rather than processing pictures on users’ own devices.
On Wednesday, FaceApp told TechCrunch that it uploads pictures to the cloud for “performance” reasons, and that “most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours.” FaceApp does not transfer user data to Russia, it said.
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) July 16, 2019
FaceApp, through a bit of a complex workaround, said it lets users request the app remove their data from its servers. “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 for that.”
FaceApp added that it only uploads the pictures users choose and does not “transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud.” And while the company said it doesn’t “sell or share an user data with any third parties,” it did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment on any future plans to monetize images.
How long it takes to grant a user’s request to wipe its data and where FaceApp images might be used in the future have not been answered.