What is FaceApp doing with my information?

Over the last few weeks everyone has been abuzz over FaceApp.

First released in 2017, FaceApp is a free app (with paid bonus features) that can be used to make images of people appear decades older/younger, add a beard, change color of hair, and more.

It seems everyone began taking the #FaceAppChallenge and began to download the app without a second thought.

As soon as the app began to pick up in popularity, many news sites began to issue warnings about possible privacy risks. People were concerned that FaceApp’s terms of use gave them the license to use your photos broadly after you upload them to the company’s servers.

On top of that, people began to focus on the fact that FaceApp is based out of St. Petersburg, Russia (cue scary music).

This led me to wonder: what exactly is in the FaceApp terms of use? Well, here’s the excerpt that has everyone worried:

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.”

FaceApp Terms of Use

Seems scary, no?

But wait, have you ever taken time to research the fine details of other app’s terms of use agreements? No? Me neither.

I decided to take a look and see what other app’s terms of use agreements looked like, and I was shocked.

“To provide our services, though, we need you to give us some legal permissions to use that content. Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights (like photos or videos) on or in connection with our products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content”

Facebook Term of Use

“you also grant us a perpetual license to create derivative works from, promote, exhibit, broadcast, syndicate, sublicense, publicly perform, and publicly display Public Content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). To the extent it’s necessary, when you appear in, create, upload, post, or send Public Content, you also grant Snap Inc., our affiliates, and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice, including in connection with commercial or sponsored content. This means, among other things, that you will not be entitled to any compensation from Snap Inc., our affiliates, or our business partners if your name, likeness, or voice is conveyed through the Services, either on the Snapchat application or on one of our business partner’s platforms.”

Snapchat Term of Use

“However, by submitting Content to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content in connection with the Service and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels. You also hereby grant each user of the Service a non-exclusive license to access your Content through the Service, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such Content as permitted through the functionality of the Service and under these Terms of Service.”

YouTube Term of Service

They all seem similar, don’t they? That is because they are.

Now, I’m not saying there is not a serious potential privacy risk in using FaceApp (there certainly is), but I think it is important to also consider that the terms of use for FaceApp hardly differ from many other social media sites and apps.

At the end of the day it is important to remember this crucial detail when it comes to social media and applications: they are never “free”. If an app is not charging you a fee to use their service, they are going to find another way to make money, usually by selling your information to third parties, or by trying to show you targeted advertising.

When it comes to protecting your privacy and personal information it is important to always remember that the best defense is a strong offence.

Accessing courses taught by organizations like techKNOWtutors allow you to brush up on your digital literacy skills so that you aware of the type of information that you can share online, and the types of information you should strive to remain private; and how to protect yourself overall.

Please visit our web page for a full listing of upcoming training sessions.

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