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Face for sale: why is the FaceApp app dangerous? 

The application FaceApp, which allows using neural networks to manipulate photos, has found a second life, becoming viral among western stars. In  Russia, they picked up this baton, literally flooding social networks with artificially aged selfies that simulate the appearance of a user in old age. Nevertheless, the media are sounding the alarm – they believe that the use of FaceApp can pose a threat to privacy, and therefore it is worth stopping to upload their pictures to it.
For the first time, FaceApp went viral about two years ago — this application transforms a user’s selfie using artificial intelligence. Then you could “add” a smile to yourself, present yourself as a man / woman, or simply apply a filter of correction that corrects skin and makeup flaws.
At the same time, FaceApp had the tools to change the race for itself – so the Europeans could turn themselves into Asians or blacks. After the application was accused of racism, these filters were removed.
This July, FaceApp gained a second life, when Western and Russian stars began to share in large numbers pictures, where you can see how they will look in old age – the application has a corresponding filter that adds wrinkles and gray hair.
Nevertheless, information security experts and analysts recommend thinking twice before downloading this application and even more so sharing the result in social networks.
According to Mashable, currently FaceApp occupies the leading lines in the number of downloads in both the App Store and the Play Market. The hashtag #faceappchallenge is also very widespread on popular online platforms. Such popularity could not pass unnoticed, and many information security specialists were interested in the company’s privacy policy.
There are several reasons for being suspicious. First of all, an unexpected surge of interest in the application, which has existed for two years.
Some people noticed that FaceApp needs an internet connection to work, which in theory could mean that the application transmits the user’s uploaded photos somewhere.
In addition, in the foreign segments of Twitter, people indicate that FaceApp is owned by the Russian company Wireless Lab, located in St. Petersburg, and, as everyone knows in the West, Russian hackers never sleep.
There are no evidences of these charges yet, but one doesn’t have to go far for examples when the application, which is quite innocent at first glance, collected personal data, which were then used by third parties for their own purposes. For example, the infamous scandal with Cambridge Analytica, when people thought that they were undergoing the usual psychological test, and then they learned that the information gathered about them was used in the election campaign of Donald Trump .
In May of this year, NBC reported that the Ever application, which offered to store user photos for free, used them to train the neural networks for the face recognition tool, which was later sold to law enforcement agencies .
Another sad example is associated with  IBM , which used images from Flickr photo sharing for similar needs, without notifying the owners of the photos.
The privacy policy of FaceApp also states that the application collects data on geolocation and the user’s search history on the Internet.
At the same time, it is reported that “we [the developers] will not sell your information to third parties outside of FaceApp,” and it is immediately added that the application gives the collected data to “advertising partners” to improve targeting.
Despite the fact that such practices are not rare among application developers, the situation with FaceApp is another example of how IT companies secretly collect information about users using methods that no one even suspects.
The fact that some users have sounded the alarm and urge to stop using FaceApp shows that the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other major data breaches did not go unnoticed, and the public learned some lessons from it. There is no denying that the temptation to use a viral application that friends advertise on social networks is too great, but you should not forget that privacy and the protection of personal information are much more expensive than the next fad.

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