OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - It’s the latest social media craze to bombard the internet. FaceApp’s artificial intelligence ability transform users’ photos into elderly versions of themselves has gone viral drawing in celebrities like the Jonas Brothers, Ludacris and Kevin Hart. As humorous as many of the posts are, business law attorney Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, said there is cause for concern.
“The first thing that stuck out to me is that this company is based in Russia. My concern is that my data is going to Russia,” she said Wednesday.
No nefarious connections between FaceApp’s developing company Wireless Lab and the Russian government have been confirmed. Wireless Lab is based in Saint-Petersburg, Russia and is run by a man named Yaroslav Goncharov. Goncharov released a statement Wednesday saying, “Even though the core R&D development team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia.”
“He may be totally telling the truth, but he doesn’t control what happens tomorrow,” Weinstein said. “It doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It means they’re subject to Russia as opposed to the United States.”
According to FaceApp’s terms, when you upload your photo to his application, “You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, 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.”
“It could mean nothing or it could mean they’re just using it for ads in the application or they’re putting your face in Russia advertisements…it could mean anything,” said Weinstein.
Goncharov said most images are deleted from their servers within 48 hours and 99% of users do not actually login so FaceApp does not have identifying information. He also said the company does not share user data with third parties.
Users are able to remove their data from FaceApp’s servers by going to Settings > Support > Report a bug and typing the word “privacy” in the subject line. But, Goncharov said the company is overloaded with requests.