FaceApp: Party Gag Or Data GAU? 10 Questions And Answers

Table of contents:

FaceApp: Party Gag Or Data GAU? 10 Questions And Answers
FaceApp: Party Gag Or Data GAU? 10 Questions And Answers

Video: FaceApp: Party Gag Or Data GAU? 10 Questions And Answers

Video: FaceApp: Party Gag Or Data GAU? 10 Questions And Answers

FaceApp has been around for two years and is available for iOS and Android. It is an app that can be used to change pictures of yourself or others with one tap. FaceApp regularly adds new filters, i.e. new effects. Some are free, others have to be paid for by purchasing a pro version.


Currently, a free aging effect is making the rounds that produces truly amazing results. Many celebrities post pictures of themselves on the social networks, such as rapper Drake, pop star Miley Cyrus or the football team of Hertha BSC. Everyone wants to try it out for themselves, and the astonishing results are shared on Facebook or Instagram. So it happens that FaceApp is just (again) on everyone's lips.

2. How does FaceApp work?

Technically, a lot has happened in the field of image manipulation in the last 3 years, the so-called deep fakes have, for example, made waves in the media. While previously experienced graphic designers spent hours working on comparable image processing, AI mechanisms such as the so-called neural networks can do this in a fraction of a second - with results at an absolutely professional level.

Technically, you need a program that works in three steps:

  1. Recognize faces in uploaded images.
  2. Recognize features in the faces, for example eyes, noses, distances between the named features and so on.
  3. Change and / or exchange these features so that a manipulated image is constructed in the result.

The real "magic" takes place in the third step. The algorithm was "trained" beforehand. He has probably been shown thousands of pictures of individuals at a young and advanced age. Based on these images, the program learns the corresponding changes in the aging process, "knows" what the difference between a young and old person must look like and applies the corresponding changes to the uploaded image.

3. Can I edit pictures of others in FaceApp?

Necessary inset: I am not a lawyer, my assessments are based on lay knowledge.

If you take a picture of the other person and the person agrees, in principle yes. Even if the aspect that his picture is uploaded to a server is debatable if this fact is not clarified. Please tell the person taken that the editing is not taking place on the phone, their picture is uploaded to a cloud server and processed there.

Doesn't the recorded person know that you are recording him: No. This violates the personal rights of the person taken in.

If you take the picture of strangers that you found on the net, for example: Also rather no. A gray area may be royalty-free images of people in current affairs, meaning celebrities. But because the legal situation can be diffuse here, I advise against it.

4. FaceApp is criticized for data protection reasons. What do you blame the app for?

FaceApp is made by a Russian company, FaceApp Inc. This explains in part why media and politicians in the United States in particular are concerned, such as Senator Schumer from the US Democrats.

The company uses Amazon and Google servers that are not located in Russia, but rather in the United States, for example.

With the terms of use, FaceApp is granted the right to continue using the images, for example for advertising or other purposes. At first glance, this may sound blatant, but other services have similar provisions that primarily serve to provide legal protection. In a statement, FaceApp asserts that the personal data of its users will not be passed on or sold to third parties.

In terms of data protection law, German citizens have the right to their own image, which is part of their right to privacy. Means: FaceApp must not simply use private photos of users for their purposes without explicit permission.

Legally harmless: How FaceApp lets characters from video games age.


Start photo gallery (19 photos)

5. Why doesn't FaceApp process the images on the smartphone itself, but on computers in the network?

When using it, you practically do not notice that the images are not edited on your own smartphone, but uploaded to a server, processed there and downloaded again. The fact that this is not made transparent in the app is actually a justified criticism.

Other apps such as Snapchat or the camera apps from Huawei and Apple mobile phones do the image editing directly on the mobile phone. FaceApp specifies "performance" reasons as the reason for server processing. Not without reason, because there are weaker devices that would take a long time to process or would not work at all. The creators also argue that competitors could steal the software more easily if it weren't run on their own cloud servers.

The company behind FaceApp promises to delete most of the images after 48 hours. The reason why the images are kept so long is that one wants to prevent the same image from being uploaded again and again.

Even if FaceApp promises not to boggle with the pictures - after all, portrait photos are highly sensitive personal data - what happens to them in the cloud is unclear - apart from the desired processing.

6. Does FaceApp upload images from its own gallery to the web in an uncontrolled manner?

No, this rumor has been denied by FaceApp and has now been refuted by security experts.

7. How can I have my pictures uploaded via FaceApp deleted?

Currently, the only way to get FaceApp to delete its own data from the servers is via the feedback function in the app. Go to the gear icon, select "Report errors and send logs", write "Privacy. Please delete all my pictures and personal data.”In the message. Actually you should enter "Privacy" in the subject line, but that is currently not possible in the German version.

8. Why are programs like FaceApp controversial?

In relation to FaceApp, it is about non-transparent communication, the personal data is uploaded to the network and the unclear what happens with it. Because: Where personal data is available, it can be misused. This doesn't even have to be the intention of the provider of such an app. If the data is poorly or not securely on the network, third parties can tap and misuse this data. But, once again clearly: It is a theoretical risk, there are currently no signs of data abuse by FaceApp.

Face recognition programs are generally controversial because they can and will be abused. Placing cameras in the public space, showing faces in the live image and assigning them to actual people realizes a completely new type of surveillance. Sounds like a horror scenario, but is already being implemented in China, for example, and enables seamless movement profiles for individual people.

But that's not all. As the algorithms become more sophisticated, they can also identify emotions, classify people in ethnic groups and much more - the use cases are almost limitless. We as a society have to be aware of these dangers and have a healthy basic skepticism about new technologies. There are voices that demand a complete ban on facial recognition due to the potential danger. To be fair, one has to emphasize that these dangers would exist even without the comparatively harmless FaceApp.

9. Does the FaceApp algorithm also learn from self-uploaded images, i.e. is personal data used to further improve the algorithm?

Personally, I think it is conceivable that the algorithm learns further from the uploaded images to distinguish features on the face. Other use cases are speculation.

10. Where does old age come from? Instagram is all about youth, dolce vita and an immaculately staged everyday life

First of all, posting a photo like this is a nice gag that makes you laugh or widen your eyes. But I can actually imagine that after years in which many Instagram users strive for more and more perfection, a small trend towards more everyday life, realism and real life has emerged that does not need a pink-colored whitewash. It is of course a nice irony that something like this breaks its path through an aging effect.

And: The topic of age must also be present on Instagram at some point, because the medium has long ceased to be a youth phenomenon. It plays a role in our everyday life, whether you are 18 or 80.

By the way: Follow GIGA TECH on Instagram!

Attention Snapchat pros: Which game hero is behind these filters?

Frank Ritter
Frank Ritter

Is the article helpful?

Yes No (6) comments

Your life is GIGA.


Help us to improve and please tell us:

Why is the article not helpful for you?

The information is out of date I have not received enough information The information is incorrect I disagree Other Send answer

Thank you, your GIGA team


Thank you

Your opinion is important to us. Also like to discuss with us in the comments.

Window will close automatically in 6 seconds

Close Window