It’s a glimpse into the future, with sometimes disturbing results.
We’re taking about FaceApp, a photo editing tool that is all the e-rage. But there may be a good reason to skip this viral fad.
While the top ranked app is not new, its updated technology can give you a pretty realistic idea of how you are going to look at around age 80, with gray or less hair, deep lines, furrowed brows and jowls for miles.
Despite the jarring transformations, the so-called #FaceAppChallenge has quickly caught on, as social media trends do. In the past week alone, regular folks as well as major celebrities (see Miami Heat legend Dwyane Wade as a grandpa!) in their prime are bravely showing the world senior versions of themselves.
“We developed a new technology that uses neural networks to modify a face on any photo while keeping it photorealistic,” founder and CEO Yaroslav Goncharov from Wireless Lab in St. Petersburg, Russia, told TechCrunch after it first launched in 2017. ”After applying a filter, it is still your photo. Other apps intentionally change a picture in a way it is entertaining, but not a real photo anymore.”
While the free app, which more than 100 million people have downloaded from Google Play, seems like harmless — if a bit macabre — fun, experts are warning against downloading it.
If that sounds suspect, that’s because it is, according to ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis.
“It’s a Russian company, so once you grant access, you are granting access to all of those companies,” she told “Good Morning America.” “They’re getting the access to your phone so all of your contacts, all of your pictures. Once you allow that you are giving away everything.”
So free isn’t actually free.
“That’s how they’re paying for it,” Jarvis said. “They’re giving away your information.”
In conclusion: Think before your click.
Security researcher Robert Baptiste warned against partaking in the trend, which will likely fade quicker than your good looks will.
“When you upload your photo, you have no idea how your photo is used,” he told The Washington Post. “Don’t rush to use this application, because you don’t know how your data is used after that.”
Miami data privacy attorney Luis Salazar agrees.
“Most consumers are unaware of just how much of their personal biometric data — like their faces, their voices, their heartbeats, their gait, and so much more — is being recorded and added to databases everywhere,” he told the Miami Herald. “Consumers have to think twice whenever they are asked to volunteer their physical characteristics. And businesses have to be careful that aggressively trying to capture customer biometric data could backfire on them.”