If you’re one of the very few people who haven’t tried out FaceApp yet, no doubt your Facebook feed has already been flooded by those who have. The free app (available on both iOS and Android) which lets you see what you’d look like if you were younger, older or a member of the opposite sex, has caused quite a stir since its launch and currently rocketing to the top of the app charts, after being downloaded by millions of users.
But don’t be too hasty to jump on the bandwagon. Security experts have warned that people who use FaceApp may be putting their personal information at risk, including the pictures they are sharing of themselves.
Michael Bradley, a managing partner at law firm Marque Lawyers, told ABC Australia: “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.”
So what information are you giving up when using FaceApp, and should you be worried?
The app uses “device identifiers” allowing the company to monitor how you browse and use the app in order to target you with “personalized content, which could include online ads or other forms of marketing“.
Users must also agree to have their information shared “with businesses that are legally part of the same group of companies that FaceApp is part of, or that become part of that group.” The policy does not state what companies this includes.
“As should be the case across the board, people would be advised to think about how your data might be used before downloading an app and agreeing to its privacy settings,” said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab.
“In addition to the data conundrum, with facial recognition and biometrics looking like the new frontier of authentication, we should all be wary about sharing our facial likeness without a second thought. Our faces could conceivably become a mechanism for authentication, so we may soon have to start treating our faces like passwords and being aware that data obtained by companies such as FaceApp can easily fall into the hands of cybercriminals and be used to spoof our identities.”