What is FaceApp's AI ageing filter, and how do you use it?

Bessie Dean
July 18, 2019

If you've been anywhere near social media for the last few weeks you've probably seen people posting photos of themselves, but aged to make them look 60, 70, or older. The app's makers says it uses artificial intelligence technology to edit the photos.

The app itself uses AI to digitally age a person's face, giving them a potential glimpse of what they may look like as an elderly person.

FaceApp was developed by a small team from St. Petersburg, Russia and has not updated its privacy policy since 2017, when the app previously went viral after criticism for what some considered to be racist filters that lightened users' skin tones.

The app, which offers a range of facial image manipulations from adding facial hair to changing genders and age, has terms of use that include granting the rights to reproduce, modify, publish and share photos and other user content.

The company also said it only ever uploaded photos that users selected for editing and not additional images. And past year, PopSugar's viral "twinning" app inadvertently leaked data.

According to the analytics service App Annie, FaceApp's rating in Google Play and the AppStore in the US, Russia, and dozens of other countries skyrocketed over the past week.

As it turns out, one specific paragraph in the app's ToS essentially describes how it can strip users of any ownership of personal photos. Be warned though, if you are thinking of trying the challenge for yourself, FaceApp has raised concerns in the past over its privacy policy.

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Thousands of people are sharing the results of their own experiments with the app on social media.

Users say FaceApp might be uploading their library in the background since it can still access photos even if the settings are set at "never" allow photo access.

"After applying a filter, it is still your photo".

"The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn't upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation", FaceApp representatives said. "Don't rush to use this application because you don't know how your data is used after that".

In response to privacy concerns, FaceApp on Wednesday provided a statement, first to TechCrunch, saying most images are deleted from their servers within two days of the upload date.

The developer of a popular app which transforms users' faces to predict how they will look as older people has insisted they are not accessing users' photographs without permission.

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