No, FaceApp is not stealing your data — it's only making you look old

FaceApp's aging feature used on Bollywood celebrities, Ranvir Singh (left), Arjun Kapoor (center) and Deepika Padukone (right)
  • FaceApp, the Russian photo editing app that made its debut two years ago, is going viral again with its feature that allows users to look younger or older.
  • Users are worried that FaceApp might be uploading their library in the background since it can still access photos even if the settings are set at ‘never’ allow photo access.
  • Researchers find that the concerns are unfounded and if anything, Apple might be to blame.
FaceApp — the Russian artificial intelligence (AI) photo editor infamous for enabling ‘digital blackface’ two years ago — is back on the scene. He brings a not-so-new feature that lets users defy age to see what they would look like if they were younger or older.


It’s even trending online as the #FaceAppChallenge.

But, the return of FaceApp also brings about questions around how the mobile app accesses data on smartphones. Back in 2017, when the app originally went viral, one of the criticisms against Face App was a vague privacy policy. It was never clear with what it does with the data it acquires from users.

Considering a lot of sensitive photos are taken on phones today, like identification documents and banking information, it would only take one wrong picture for things to take an unpleasant turn.

FaceApp might not be to blame

French security research Robert Bapiste, TechCrunch and Guardian App’s CEO, Will Strafach, say that FaceApp’s issues are not as bad as they are thought to be.

All three of them have determined that FaceApp doesn’t upload your camera roll in the background. Also, iOS users who are panicking over how the app is able to pick up photos even though access wasn’t provided, it’s not FaceApp’s fault.


Apple’s API has a security loophole that’s been in place since the introduction of iOS 11. It allows apps to pick up singular photos from the system to work with.

There’s an argument to be made for why that shouldn’t be the default setting on smartphones but it has nothing to do with FaceApp abusing the right to privacy.

The one thing that is questionable about FaceApp is that it uploads the photo to the cloud, in order to process it. And consent for that is vague since FaceApp doesn’t explicitly point out that particular part of its functionality.

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