The FaceApp Controversy – Friend Or Foe?

By Ben Hamill - July 19 2019
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The FaceApp Controversy

FaceApp isn’t exactly a new craze but it is in fact enjoying new popularity among users of social media. The app initially surfaced about 2 years ago when it enabled users to upload a photo of their face and discover what they would have looked like had they been born into a different race. The feature was however slammed as being racially controversial and was soon scrapped by the developer. The latest more recent craze is to make use of the app in order to see what one would look like as the opposite gender, or even as an older version of self.

Though this time round not considered to be in any way controversial, FaceApp is now facing backlash of a more sinister variety. It all started when developer Joshua Nozzi tweeted that in his opinion, FaceApp was guilty of uploading photos of people from their smart phones without the necessary permission. This theory was shortly after refuted by a top French cyber security expert but by then, a significant deal of damage had already been done.

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Why Hang On To Images?

All PR hell broke loose some days ago and not too long after the app again went viral among social media users, all eager to share with friends and acquaintances what they would look like a number of years from now.

The issue appears to be what is regarded as a very casual approach to data management and distribution on the part of the product owner. FaceApp has however denied all claims with regards to the unsolicited distribution and sharing of images and has said that “most” of the images edited by users of the app were deleted from the application’s server software in a matter of 48 hours.

It’s The Where And Not The What

But why is FaceApp being made out to be the villain when the basic premise is very similar to a number of options offered by applications like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and SnapChat? The short and sweet of the answer is that there aren’t any major differences, and that FaceApp is in all likelihood experiencing a wave of negative publicity thanks to its ties with Russia.

And by Russia we don’t mean Russian Intelligence or even Russian Government. FaceApp has offices based in the US as well as in St. Petersburg in Russia. That’s it. Whilst some may believe that there’s much more to it than just that, others are calling conspiracy theory on the entire affair.

The bottom line is that if we are going to stop using FaceApp for shared content reasons then we might as well close our Twitter accounts too as the third-party content share policies are the same, down to the last clause.

Harmless friend or creepy and potentially hazardous Russian Intelligence foe? Let every face out there decide for him- or herself. Or both, for that matter.

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