Today it goes often like this, a trend is launched, some celebrities take a selfie and the challenge begins, no matter about the consequences, no matter about privacy. What really matters is how narcissistic our compulsive sharing impulse is, consciously or not.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the case of Faceapp. Yes, you all know this app, it’s the one you used to grow old and see your face slightly aged.

The Faceapp Challenge and the launch of the new function

At least once in our life we all wondered: “How will I be old?”

Of course, we can’t be sure, but Faceapp tried to answer (in a nice way) with one of its filters. By leveraging our curiosity, the FaceApp Challenge begun and the new aging filter drove VIPs and common people crazy. The aging app trend has counted about 80 million downloads, a number to be multiplied by the number of real users.

The aging app? Something is not right

Faceapp was produced in 2017 by Wireless Lab OOO (a company based in St. Petersburg founded by Yaroslav Goncharov). At first glance, Faceapp could be an app like many others, but something about the terms of use and operation does not seem right.

Even if we don’t mind about its location, which according to the Google PlayStore info is in Wilmington (a Delaware city considered a tax haven), the app operation and the policy (non-existent or at least old) for the processing of sensitive data seems strange.

How does it work?

The app is free and once downloaded it requires the upload of a face photo that goes directly to edit on its servers. Nothing strange, if the policy were not stopped at 2017 (just a few time before the entry into force of the GDPR). Moreover, the app can:
• trace data on the device from which it is connected (location, etc.);
• process biometric data for which a specific approval should be required;
• share these information with affiliates and service providers.

The privacy issue

So, we can say that the app completely violates Article 3 of the GDPR which specifies (I quote):

“This Regulation applies to the processing of personal data by a controller not established in the Union, but in a place where Member State law applies by virtue of public international law.”

Of course, Goncharov’s answer on the subject arrived. Indeed, the founder stated that:
• most photos are deleted by the company systems within 48 hours;
• many of the users do not log in so it is impossible to sell or share data to third parties.
But he forgot that the privacy issue remains with no solution.

Yes, USA attacked first

The app’s attitude towards users irritated the USA. The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, has invited the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to conduct investigation in this field. According to Schumer, the complete and irrevocable access to user photos implicitly requested by the application is a risk for national security too.

It is firmly established that we are now under profiling but, don’t we deserve (at least by appearances) a bit of non-violated privacy and, above all, transparency?

In fact, the impression given by the FaceApp Challenge was a mass storage for a clean dataset of faces to train the AI to face recognition and biometric data tracking.

And what about us? As good users, have we wondered, at least, if they really do it or not?

Not too much. In fact, the FaceApp Challenge exploited one of our natural inclination by keeping us glued to our devices and social media for the umpteenth time.

The bottom line? The narcissism typical of this age has made us even more curious and inclined to the simple desire to modify our image. So, as good users, we did it without thinking too much and, what’s more, we had fun.


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