FaceApp: Russians Own Your Face?


You may remember FaceApp from a couple of years ago when they debuted the ability to turn a neutral face photo into a smiling photo (among other cool selfie edits). Well, they’re back making waves across the world with their “free” old-age filter being posted everywhere. Nothing is ever really free though, right?


  1. FaceApp is a Russian app.

  2. FaceApp isn’t automatically uploading your entire camera roll to their servers.

  3. FaceApp does upload the image you want to “make older” to their server (an American Amazon Web Services, Inc. server), but most of the photos get deleted off of the server fairly quickly.

  4. If you’ve used FaceApp, they can use whatever you’ve made, sent, created, and more for commercial purposes.

  5. If you’ve used FaceApp, you’ve granted 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.

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Here’s that fifth fact again in English: You gave FaceApp permission to use your photo. FOREVER. You can’t revoke that permission. You can’t get paid if and when they use your photo. They can license that photo to anyone, any company, or any government they want without your permission (and they can get paid for that). They can edit your photo without your permission and then use that as they see fit as well.

There’s nothing inherently dastardly about the app being Russian. The photos aren’t even being sent to Russia as far as security analysts can tell. The real thing to pay attention to is that you just (partly) gave away your face. So, why should you care about that one photo? Well, with the way technology and security is moving, your face could be the key to unlocking all sorts of things in your life in the future. Let’s hope one day of fun doesn’t cause a headache for the rest of our lives (kinda like that time I had to use Equifax for my Bar Application and now have a lifetime of freezing and unfreezing ahead of me). Maybe it won’t be used for anything that sinister, but it’s still a wide and far reaching permission people are handing over for free. Wouldn’t you wanna be paid if your face ended up on a commercial for FaceApp in the future?

Read those terms and conditions. It’s a good practice always, but especially when you’re about to do something involving your body. Hmm…maybe I should get started on a blog post about those DNA heritage analysis sites. Be careful and stay frosty out there, everyone.