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FaceApp: Terms & conditions for seeing your wrinkled self

Photos of users stay with the app forever and can be used anywhere the company deems fit

By Furquan Ameen in New Delhi
  • Published 19.07.19, 8:57 PM
  • Updated 19.07.19, 8:57 PM
  • a min read
  •  
A Twitter post on FaceApp's virality Source: @RoflGandhi_ on Twitter

If FaceApp is where your face has been of late, it will stay there forever.

The Russian app, a huge hit because it shows users what they could look like when older, says in its terms and conditions that it has the right to do whatever it wants with the photograph of your face, which it modifies using “artificial intelligence algorithms”.

The terms and conditions say: "You grant 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." 

FaceApp is not new, nor is its feature that ages the face digitally. Why it went viral two years after its launch, is unclear. It was controversial in 2017 too. Within two weeks of launch, FaceApp reached a million downloads and became the Number 1 in the photography category in Google Store across nine countries.

FaceApp is the brainchild of Yaroslav Goncharov, the CEO of the Russian app development company Wireless Lab. Goncharov previously worked at the Russian internet giant Yandex, the equivalent of Alibaba in Russia.

In 2017, FaceApp had a “hot” feature. It was supposed to make the user look hotter or prettier. It did that by lightening the skin colour. It was removed after criticism for being racist.

The same year, FaceApp introduced “ethnicity” filters. It could make users look “black”, “Indian”, "Caucasian" and “Asian”. This feature too was removed.

In an interview to Washington Post, Goncharov told the American newspaper that FaceApp deleted most of the photos from its servers after 48 hours. But he also said that legally, the app’s terms give it the right to do whatever it wants with the photographs through a “perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license”.

In the US, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has called for an investigation into FaceApp. In a letter posted on Twitter, Schumer said, “I have serious concerns regarding both the protection of the data that is being aggregated as well as whether users are aware of who may have access to it.”