If you used the FaceApp to find out what you might look like a few years down the road, you might now be worried that you have just granted Russian spies access to your entire life.
And that’s a good thing to be worried about, because that would be bad.
(Just as an aside, do we really think we need to GIVE the Russians access to all of our information? I’m pretty sure if they want it they already have it. Of course that may be me just being paranoid.)
So, should you be worried or not?
The short answer is yes. But probably not more than you should be worried about any of the other apps you use.
One of the key concerns many users have about the app is that by signing the user agreement they gave the FaceApp company ownership of all of their photos.
The FaceApp’s user agreement says:
“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.”
So in other words, you give the FaceApp permission to use the photo you create without asking you or without paying you for it.
To compare, Facebook’s user agreement also includes the same:
“Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Facebook Products you use.”
And the website we used to create our own aged picture, PicMonkey, says the same:
“You hereby grant to us a non-exclusive, fully paid, transferable, sublicenseable, worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual license to use, store, copy, modify and create derivative works based upon User Content and to distribute and make available to third parties such User Content for all purposes in connection with operating the Websites and providing the PicMonkey Services.”
And guess what, Snapchat says about the same too:
“We call Story submissions that are set to be viewable by Everyone as well as content you submit to crowd-sourced Services, including Our Story, “Public Content.” For all content you submit to the Services other than Public Content, you grant Snap Inc. and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content. This license is for the limited purpose of operating, developing, providing, promoting, and improving the Services and researching and developing new ones.”
So in other words, many of the apps you use require you to sign a user agreement that gives them permission to use your information and pictures.
But can they get ALL my pictures?
According to FaceApp, they only use and store the picture that you upload, not your entire camera roll. Again, though, they wouldn’t be the first or the last company to take liberties with their user’s information.
Can I change my mind?
One concern from the user agreement is that it says the user gives FaceApp irrevocable license to use their photos. Many users are concerned that once they allow FaceApp to access their photo, they will never be able to take back that permission. However, FaceApp says that you can send a request for them to delete your data from their servers. They instruct users to submit a request in the mobile app by going to Settings->Support->Report a bug and then enter the word “privacy” in the subject line.
What if I delete it?
According to the user agreement, photos you delete from the app may still be stored in their servers for reasons including for them to comply with their legal obligations. In other words, even if you delete it, it may still be there and it could be used against you.
This clause may give them free reign to store the photos you delete for any number of reasons, but it also may be to protect themselves and/or others from misuse. I am imagining a cyber-bullying situation in which a person takes an inappropriate picture, perhaps of a minor, and transforms it using FaceApp then distributes it to humiliate that person.
The app may required to reproduce that picture under a court-ordered subpoena, which could be why they keep the right to store even deleted photos.
Can the Russians now hack my phone?
Another significant concern is that the app is based in Russia making many users afraid that the Russians can now access anything and everything about them. According to FaceApp, their Research and Development team is indeed based in Russia, but the user data is not stored in Russia.
Again though, if a tech company wants to get your data and information, you probably don’t have to give them permission to do it.
So while it might seem that the controversy over the FaceApp user agreement is much ado about nothing, there are some valuable takeaways we can learn from this Face Aging Trend:
When you use any app, you have to sign a user agreement. You most likely don’t think twice about it and simply click “I Agree”. However, within that user agreement might be some language that would make you feel uncomfortable and make you think twice about agreeing.
We are probably giving a lot of apps and technology companies too much information and access to ourselves. FaceApp may be one of them, but so would Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and many, many others.
We need to remember that what we do on the internet is always lingering out there, even if we delete it. And it could come back to bite us in the future.
We all probably need to get more serious about our skincare regimens. If nothing else, this app should serve as a reminder to wear sunscreen, wash your face at night, and start using a wrinkle cream now.
And if you are worried about the FaceApp, be sure to check out our previous post on the 5 Most Dangerous Apps for Teens!