FaceApp data tracking: how to protect yourself

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COLUMBIA - The new AI face editing app FaceApp has become an instant hit with iPhone users. However, there are big consequences for using an application with advanced face analysis software.

Wireless Lab, the Russian-based company that developed FaceApp, initially released the app in January 2017, but it only recently went viral. Within the past couple of days, dozens of celebrities have used the app and posted the results on different social media platforms. This has helped to create a lot of buzz for the app and the company.

Along with all the fun users have with doing things such as making themselves look older or younger, transforming facial expressions,or adding facial hair, there are some concerns when using the app.

What users may not know is that the app's terms of service have users agree to the "transfer and storage of information about you in the United States and other countries." By using the app users are giving the company "irrevocable" and "royalty-free" permission to use any uploaded photo or data in advertising. 

FaceApp currently has over 100 million installations and now owns access to more than 150 million people's faces and names. 

Dr. K. Palaniappan, an engineering and computer science professor at MU, says that he's impressed with the how easy it is to access technology that advanced.

"An app that has access to all of your photos can easily create a smile on a picture where you're not smiling. It may even analyze other pictures to help construct picture transformations."

From a political perspective, attorney Steven Wyse from Wyse Law Firm, P.C., says that the United States government isn't doing enough to protect its citizens from something potentially harmful like FaceApp.

"You look at the European Union and see how they're able to better monitor citizens or just have a better handle on things like this that can be potentially harmful beforehand."

But Wyse isn't the only one that has concerns about the app. Parents like Miranda Stegeman think that apps like these should be avoided if possible.

"I know I can't monitor what my daughter does all of the time at this age, but I just hope that she knows the dangers of using an app that can easily track and trade your data."

FaceApp does allow users to remove their data from the company's database. Here's how to do it:

1. On the app, go to the settings icon, which looks like a small gear, and then tap “Support.”

2. Then, hit “Report bugs and send logs.” After that, you’ll see a screen with the word “Bug” on top.

3. There, you should type in “PRIVACY – Please delete all my user data from your servers.”

4. FaceApp says its support team is currently overloaded, but will eventually get to the request.