This month’s popular trend is a new application called FaceApp, a mobile app that can alter your photos to make you appear younger or older.

FaceApp is not a brand-new application. A couple of years back, it made the news after introducing ‘ethnicity filters’, which could supposedly transform photos from one ethnicity to another. As you’d expect, there was huge backlash that led to the feature being ditched. However, there are still other features like the ability to edit a smile into a picture. Even celebrities like Paul Rudd are getting involved, sharing aged versions of themselves via social media.

Now, thousands of people across social platforms are taking part, sharing their own results under various hashtags. But in the days since the application went viral, some have been questioning how safe and secure the app really is.

Joshua Nozzi – Twitter

One developer, as shown above, tweeted about FaceApp on July 15th when he mistakenly thought that the application was uploading all of a user’s photos to its servers, rather than just those submitted to the app. But he has since updated a post on his website to point out that he was mistaken.

This is partly due to a security researcher who calls himself Elliot Alderson – a pseudonym – who downloaded FaceApp to study whether users’ data was indeed being shared internationally. He discovered that the application only used those photos submitted by the user, transferring them to the company’s servers. What’s more, most of those servers are based in the USA, not Russia or anywhere else in Europe.

Other websites have questioned what the application might be doing with users’ photos during the overly-long processing time. Some have questioned whether data was being used for something like facial recognition AI training.

“No, we don’t use photos for facial recognition training (…) Only for editing pictures.”

FaceApp Chief Executive, Yaroslav Goncharov speaks to BBC News

The bottom line appears to be that FaceApp isn’t currently transferring all of your photos to Russian servers for some nefarious purpose. However, there are still some question marks over the wording of the application’s terms and conditions, which include the following statements:

“You acknowledge that some of the Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions, and you hereby agree that FaceApp may place such advertising and promotions on the Services or on, about, or in conjunction with your User Content. The manner, mode and extent of such advertising and promotions are subject to change without specific notice to you.

FaceApp terms and conditions

As always, you should be careful trusting applications with your data. In this case, things seem to be above board, given the security expert’s research. But you should always think twice before granting access to personal data with any website or application. If in doubt, give WiseGuys a call on 0808 123 2820.