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Canberra academic warns of dangers of using viral FaceApp ageing filter

Glynis Quinlan 21 July 2019 20

FaceApp uses artificial intelligence to digitally age people’s faces and allow them to meet their ‘future self’. Image: faceapp.com

A Canberra academic and cyber security expert is warning people about the dangers of using the hugely popular FaceApp – saying their images could be used in malicious ways.

FaceApp was developed in Russia by Wireless Lab and its latest old age filter has been taking social media by storm, with celebrities among the hordes of people responding to the #faceappchallenge to digitally age their faces and share photos of what they will one day look like.

However, the director of UNSW Canberra Cyber, Nigel Phair, is advising people not to use the AI-powered app as they first have to agree to terms and conditions which allow FaceApp to use their images as they like.

“Once you upload your photo the Russians who developed the app own the intellectual property of that photo,” Mr Phair told Region Media.

“Even if you subsequently delete the app, they still own the photo.

“There is a strong chance that they will do something malicious with it.”

Mr Phair said it is possible a person’s image could then be used for identity theft or passed on to commercial entities.

“The developers behind this didn’t spend hundreds of hours building this just because it’s good fun,” Mr Phair said.

“You don’t know where they’re going to pass your images onto within the Russian state or to commercial entities.

“There’s no such thing as free in the online world – you are the product.”


Mr Phair’s concerns go far beyond just FaceApp to the way people participate in the online world.

He said that people aren’t thinking before they sign up to apps and often agree to terms and conditions without reading them.

He acknowledged that it can often be difficult for people to access and understand the terms and conditions, but wants app users to realise that nothing is free and there is always a cost, such as loss of privacy.

Mr Phair is particularly concerned about FaceApp because it was developed in Russia.

“The reality is that the Russian state don’t abide by the international norms,” he said.

FaceApp recently put out a statement responding to privacy concerns, saying they might store an uploaded photo in the cloud but that most images are deleted from their servers within 48 hours from the upload date.

TechCrunch quotes FaceApp as saying: “We don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties.”


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20 Responses to Canberra academic warns of dangers of using viral FaceApp ageing filter
Tess Avramovic Tess Avramovic 11:55 am 22 Jul 19

Sophie Wych but you look hot as hell as a blonde so oh well

    Sophie Wych Sophie Wych 11:57 am 22 Jul 19

    Tess Avramovic 😂 well at least we know now that blonde is a go

    Tess Avramovic Tess Avramovic 12:05 pm 22 Jul 19

    Sophie Wych im sure the russians will do so much with blonde you

David Lockwood David Lockwood 8:26 am 22 Jul 19

Konstantin Pokalioukhine 🤣 we screwed

    Konstantin Pokalioukhine Konstantin Pokalioukhine 8:56 am 22 Jul 19

    David Lockwood unlikely. Your photo is on FB anyway and available publically

Snez Vujic Snez Vujic 7:49 am 22 Jul 19

I’m gonna take a stab in the dark and say the Russians had interfered in Australia’s elections😜

Sharon Woods Sharon Woods 11:19 am 21 Jul 19

Also the app has been given permission to use your camera …

Peter Martel Peter Martel 11:16 am 21 Jul 19

Lol , I never do this stuff . Suckers

Jackie Fuller Jackie Fuller 9:35 am 21 Jul 19

To late :)

Steven Lloyd Steven Lloyd 11:05 pm 20 Jul 19

i think is so funny how people are so willing to give up there own data and life to companies yes i use facebook but i never update my status or even update my photos im very careful

    Steven Lloyd Steven Lloyd 9:15 pm 21 Jul 19

    John Andriunas Yes of Course there is abit of update on my life but not many. There difference from sharing a bit to keep friends upto date and family to giving your life fully away to social media

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 7:40 am 22 Jul 19

    Be careful of displaying pictures of children, too.

    Leanne McMahon Leanne McMahon 6:32 pm 22 Jul 19

    Steven your Facebook profile is pretty much open. You can limit who can see information about you by updating your settings. That would be an easy way to be more careful.

    Jamii-Lee Evans Jamii-Lee Evans 10:00 pm 23 Jul 19

    I wouldn’t say your fb page is locked down at all. Maybe have another look at it.

    Steven Lloyd Steven Lloyd 11:58 pm 23 Jul 19

    Never said it was locked down im happy to share some detials about my life as it very easy to find out anyways. even more when u live in a place like canberra. What I was trying to say is some people share sop much you could track or even know what they did every min of the day. i do think its funny how everyone had to check my page out haha.

Ben Mallie Ben Mallie 9:39 pm 20 Jul 19

A French security researcher who uses the pseudonym Elliot Alderson ran a check on the app and found it was not actually uploading your entire camera roll just the photo you were modifying. Which is what you’d expect from an app like that. Alderson said he also couldn’t find any evidence it was stealing all your data; it was just getting your device ID and your device model. Which, again, is pretty much to be expected. The reason the app was causing such a fuss, Alderson hypothesized, was because of fears about Russia 🤓

Acton Acton 8:55 pm 20 Jul 19

Similar to what RiotAct puts in its T&C:

1.5 You acknowledge that The-RiotACT.com may use all intellectual property rights in your content throughout the world, in perpetuity, without restriction and without making payment to you, including publication of that material in hard copy publications or in electronic media, using your content in training, advertising or promotional material for The-RiotACT.com and permitting others to do any of these, including when The-RiotACT.com and others receive payment for this.

2.5 When you submit content, in any format, you acknowledge that you have all necessary rights, including copyright, in the material that you are contributing to RiotACT. You agree that RiotACT may use the material online and in whatever other ways RiotACT chooses, now and in the future.

Housh Fallah Housh Fallah 8:40 pm 20 Jul 19

Yeah, they make you look old. Tall Jan is malicious.

Liu Rui Liu Rui 8:28 pm 20 Jul 19

What about linkedin profile photos? Should we delete them? The FaceApp guys can download them together with our cv.

Zkotz Ryder Zkotz Ryder 8:03 pm 20 Jul 19

Yes unlike facebook and google and Twitter and instagram and Snapchat and what’s app and all the others who have nothing but good intentions with your personal data.

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