The current obsession for appearance, ageing and beauty seem to be embodied in one app that allows us to see how we will look in 60 years. In these days, in fact, FaceApp has invaded Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, full of selfies with protagonists old and wrinkled faces.
The app was actually launched in 2017 by Wireless Lab, Russian company founded by Yaroslav Goncharov, that a few months ago made headlines for another filter available on the app called Hotness. Now another FaceApp filter has gone viral: selecting the Age pack and picking the filter Old your face automatically becomes 60 years older, with lots of wrinkles, lines and skin spots. The results are quite impressive and seem also pretty plausible, it’s no surprise that the app has already been downloaded more than 700 thousand times, with an average rating of almost 5 stars, definitely a high rating. Despite what one might think, FaceApp does not use simple masks that are applied on your face, but it uses filters designed with AI, that creates a mask based on the physiognomy shape of every face.
The great success of the app is partly related to our common fear of getting old: wouldn’t we all want to know how we will look at 65 years old? How many wrinkles we will have and how our face will look? And if that is really going to be our look, is there anything we can do now to change it, maybe with specific products and creams? Maybe the last reflection is a bit strong, in the end, it’s just an app to have fun, but this kind of thought must have crossed the biggest beauty brands CEOs’ minds. Seeing what would be the most damaged and aged parts of the face they could immediately create a specific and definitely successful product.
The success of this app, though, urges some questions on matters like the safety and the privacy of our personal data. FaceApp, in fact, has never been clear on the actual use of the images of its users: at the moment the company is not involved in any informatic scandal regarding the use of personal information, but it’s very likely that every picture that we take with this app remains on its server, safely stored and potentially available for those who want it. Basically, what for you it’s funny for a minute – the time to take a selfie – for FaceApp turns in massive quantities of personal data without any idea of how to use it.
Anyone who has placed their face online in conjunction with their name and other identifying data (for example, anyone with a social media profile or website profile), is already plenty vulnerable to being digitally captured for future facial recognition uses. – Micheal Bradley, lawyer.
FaceApp, in particular, has never been clear on what would happen if a user stopped using the app (our selfies would remain in the FaceApp database), but above all what would happen if the company that owns the app were sold to another company: its data – that’s to say our personal data – would be sold as well?
Finally, there’s another element to keep in mind. Facial recognition is progressively becoming the safest way to keep our data private and personal – just think of how the latest iPhones get unblocked. But not only. In China, for example, payments via facial recognition are becoming more and more popular, which could potentially replace payments with credit cards and above all smartphones. This new Black Mirror-Esque reality raises necessarily concerns regarding issues of privacy and above all safety of our personal data. As a consequence we should be more careful about how we use our facial image:
People shoul, therefore,e consider protecting their facial image in the same way they should be protecting other elements of their identity, like their date of birth, tax file number etc. – Jon Lawrence, executive officer at Electronic Frontiers.
FaceApp has never released any official statement on the use of the images of its users, but lawyers and privacy experts advise against the use of this app.