Does FaceApp own your photos? How to delete FaceApp following security concerns

18 July 2019, 15:25 | Updated: 18 July 2019, 17:27

Does FaceApp own your photos? FaceApp has now responded to security concerns after the internet discovered that the app was owned by a Russian company.

If you've been on the internet over the past few days, you'll have no doubt seen everyone sharing pictures of themselves looking like the old lady from Titanic who dropped the necklace into the ocean.

The FaceApp Challenge has gone viral by showing people what they will look like in 60 years thanks to some very clever face recognition technology. The app is called FaceApp (obviously...) and all you have to do is upload a picture of yourself, tap the 'old' button and it'll transform you into a grey haired, wrinkly version of yourself.

READ MORE: The best memes of 2019 (so far)

Celebrities have got involved, YouTubers are getting the treatment... basically, everyone and their mums are sharing their pictures, but huge security concerns have been raised due to the app's privacy policy, terms and conditions and the fact that it is a Russian owned company.

People are now asking whether the app is even safe to use and whether or not it's storing their photos and personal information. Here's everything you need to know about FaceApp.

Is FaceApp safe to use? How to delete FaceApp after security concerns
Is FaceApp safe to use? How to delete FaceApp after security concerns. Picture: FaceApp, SOPA Images / Contributor

Is FaceApp a Russian company?

Yes. FaceApp is owned by Wireless Lab, a company based in Russia, who first launched the face recognition tech app in 2017. When it first went viral, there was a huge amount of concern over whether it was actually safe to use due to privacy and data concerns.

The app got backlash for some of the "racist" filters included in the system that allowed users to 'change their ethnicity' and filters that even lightened skin tones.

Some people have been concerned that their personal information had been taken by the app and transferred to Russia. In a statement made to TechCrunch, the app said: "Even though the core R&D team is located in Russia, the user data is not transferred to Russia."

Is FaceApp safe to use?

Since going viral again in 2019, red flags have been raised and many people have voiced their concerns over social media, citing a huge privacy issue.

One tweet set off a snowball effect on Twitter earlier this week, warning that the app could be taking and uploading your photos without any permission from the user.

According to their User Content terms and conditions, when you use it, 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."

What that means is, in downloading and using the app, you give the app permission to use those photos without giving anything back to the users who first created them.

While the privacy policy says "we will not rent or sell your information to third parties outside FaceApp," it is able to collect and store information from your phone that might be used for ads. The policy states: "These tools collect information sent by your device or our Service, including the web pages you visit, add-ons, and other information that assists us in improving the Service."

Founder Yaroslav Goncharov told TechCrunch that “we don’t sell or share any user data with any third parties.”

What happens to your photos when you upload them to FaceApp? Does FaceApp own your photos?

Well, first of all, let's be clear: Currently, there is no evidence to suggest or confirm that the app is storing, downloading or using your photos. In Russia, or any country.

As reported by The Independent, not every photo that appears within the app once you've given it permission to access your camera roll is actually given over to them. The rest remain hidden, while the one you choose to edit will be added to the app's server.

In a statement made to TechCruch, FaceApp said: "We only upload a photo selected by a user for editing. We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud."

But as always, you should always be aware of what you upload to these apps and what access you grant them your phone, your contact list and your personal information.

How to delete FaceApp: If you delete FaceApp does it still have access to your photos?

According to Tech Crunch, FaceApp says "most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date."

To be sure, you can always go into your settings and revoke the access you granted the app in the first place. Go to Settings, scroll down to FaceApp, and flip the switch to remove the access. You can then delete the app by holding your thumb down until the block starts shaking. Hit the 'x' and it should be gone.

In the statement to TechCrunch, FaceApp said: "We accept requests from users for removing all their data from our servers."

"For the fastest processing, we recommend sending the requests from the FaceApp mobile app using “Settings-> Support-> Report a bug” with the word “privacy” in the subject line. We are working on the better UI for that."