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Photo by Aimee Vogelsang on Unsplash

What can FaceApp do with your data?

We all wanted to know how an older or younger me-version looks like. But how do we pay for these fun tips & services? I went through the privacy policies and data processing agreements of all the giants so you won’t have to (well, you have to, I just always wanted to use a Vice-like title)

Before jumping into the actual content here, I will make a very short comment: this post is not about cyberethics or ethical AI & Machine Learning, but about what you consent when you hit Yes, I agree with the terms and conditions, cookies and so on.

And I will try to extract some important information from the policies, so anyone can understand it without being a lawyer. :) Please note that I am not a specialist either, I am just a data-nerd from the web who happens to be interested in the privacy area as well. Also, sorry for the lengthy post😅

👤 FaceApp

Maybe they are not giants, but there is a high chance that you already used them these days. They managed to get 150M faces into their database in no time. That is a giant amount of data. Unless you live under a rock (or you were on a really nice vacation), you already know that FaceApp is a mobile app developed by Russian company Wireless Lab which uses neural network technology to automatically generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs.
Fancy technical words aside: The app can transform any picture of you into a smiling/younger/older/other gender-you.

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The screenshot is taken from

Fun or creepy?
Your pick.

🔒 FaceApp Privacy Policy

This was a very short and easy read for today (20th of July 2019). Here’s what I discovered👇

FaceApp collects the info you provide directly (obviously), analytics info, cookies, log files, device identifiers and metadata. What does this mean?🤔

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Screenshot taken from

Information you provide us directly: User Content (e.g., photos and other materials) that you post through the Service. Communications between you and FaceApp. For example, we may send you Service-related emails (e.g., changes/updates to features of the Service, technical and security notices). Note that you may not opt-out of Service-related e-mails.

— Yes, you read it well. They have everything you add in the app, pics, mails, etc. and you cannot opt-out from the mailing list.✋

Analytics information:

We use third-party analytics tools to help us measure traffic and usage trends for the Service. 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. We collect and use this analytics information with analytics information from other Users so that it cannot reasonably be used to identify any particular individual User.

— Normally, I would say that this is a pretty common thing: the good part is that you will not be directly identified. 📊 The tricky part is the context: imagine that you check how you would look older, but you are also a woman in the mid-30s or early 40s, from [city name] speaking [your language]. So, you also check some fashion sites, some health and beauty clinics, they will know which iPhone you have and much more. As you can imagine, they can create a pretty strong idea about the type of person you are.💥

Cookies and similar technologies:

When you visit the Service, we may use cookies and similar technologies […] to collect information about how you use FaceApp and provide features to you.

We may ask advertisers or other partners to serve ads or services to your devices, which may use cookies or similar technologies placed by us or the third party.

—Not the cookie you were looking for, right? 🍪 Basically, now that they know that you are concerned about how you look older and what you browse and/or other digital habits, you are a great target for all the ads about anti-aging, losing hair (or getting more hair), healthy food, lose weight, have a loan, have a life insurance, use this new app with great filter to edit your photos, etc, etc. Of course, these are just use cases. Maybe FaceApp won’t actually ask advertisers to serve these ads or services.

Log file information: Log file information is automatically reported by your browser each time you make a request to access (i.e., visit) a web page or app. It can also be provided when the content of the webpage or app is downloaded to your browser or device.

When you use our Service, our servers automatically record certain log file information, including your web request, Internet Protocol (“IP”) address, browser type, referring / exit pages and URLs, number of clicks and how you interact with links on the Service, domain names, landing pages, pages viewed, and other such information.

Device identifiers: When you use a mobile device like a tablet or phone to access our Service, we may access, collect, monitor, store on your device, and/or remotely store one or more “device identifiers.” […] which uniquely identify your mobile device […] and may deliver information to us or to a third party partner about how you browse and use the Service and may help us or others provide reports or personalized content and ads.

Metadata can describe how, when and by whom a piece of User Content was collected and how that content is formatted. Users can add or may have Metadata added to their User Content including a hashtag (e.g., to mark keywords when you share a photo) or other data.

— They will know everything you do within the app. And outside of it (which other apps or sites you use — is it a financial app? or a period app? or a management one?). They will know which keywords you used when you shared that picture with you looking old or which device types you use and how much or how often.

📣 Sharing your information

In theory, they said this. We will not rent or sell your information to third parties outside FaceApp (or the group of companies of which FaceApp is a part) without your consent, except as Parties with whom we may share your information: in this Policy.
But who are the parties or the group of companies they share the info with? From the Policy seems like a long companies’ list. I will just add a screenshot

Screenshot taken from policy
Screenshot taken from policy

What does this mean? How will your data be used?

The official answer👇

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Screenshot taken from policy

Set aside the simple and generic actions mentioned in the Policy and let’s do an exercise!

I do not know much, but at a first glance, if I know your interests, browsing habits, face, referring site, pages you visit or exit and even face, I do not have to be an excellent psychologist to understand your life.
Imagine what you can do with all this information and how you will apply it when you have a team of amazing experts and researchers who know everything about AI fundamentals and applications, algorithms, markets, optimization, and graph analysis, combinations of computer science with physics and biology, machine intelligence through research, language technologies and systems that learn to understand and use language in context, Perception within systems to interpret, reason about, and transform sensory data.

Is this good or bad?
I do not know, but for sure it will contribute to the technology development a lot as it created some amazing algorithms that consistently work for a massive number of people. I would even dare to say that this is a huge step for deep tech, AI and Machine Learning and let’s hope it will be used for a lot of things that we will need at some point, not just for the sake of a picture filter.

The post got really lengthy, but I hope it gives you some insights on what a simple I agree and a picture means. You can also share this with your friends and family if you like it. Or if you hate it :D
I planned to also write about the policies from Facebook, Instagram or Google, so, if this post gets your attention I will focus on the others as well and try to showcase the data we pay to connect with friends, follow people who inspire us or to have all the tools in one place.

Working with tech products that always have a cause and solve a problem | Data-Driven Marketer • Strategist • Product & Startup Enthusiast • Occasional Speaker

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