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FaceApp goes viral on iOS, raises questions about photo library access


AI-driven photo editor from Russian company Wireless Lab, FaceApp, the two-year-old app is back in the spotlight. It is known for its realistic facial transformations in photos. The app has gone viral, again. These apps come and go with new filters. Influencer networks or paid promotion majorly drive these waves of apps.

This FaceApp has now come with a new feature which allow you to edit a person’s face to make it appear older or younger. Two years ago it faced an issue, as it enabled what amounted to digital blackface changing a person from one ethnicity to another. Some new questions are floating about FaceApp, in this current wave of virality. These questions involve like whether it uploads your camera roll in the background. But, according to the security researcher and Guardian App CEO Will Strafach or researcher Baptiste Robert, they have found no evidence of this.

Another question arises that how it allows you to pick photos without giving photo access to the app. However, you can pick a single photo using the app without giving it access to your photo library. And it is actually hundred percent allowed by an Apple API introduced in iOS 11. A user is allowed by the developer to pick one single photo from a system dialog to let the app work on. It also allows the user to tap on one photo, that is it allows you to give this app one photo instead of your entire library. It cannot see any of your photos of your library until you select one.

But there is still some questions that arises, as if a user has set the Photo Access setting to Never in settings, it can still access to your photos in library. However, you should have to change your settings to “Never” before any photo can enter the app from your library, no matter how you do it and what problem you faces while doing it.

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Another thing that has not made clear to the users is that FaceApp uploads your photo to the cloud for processing. On-device processing is not done by it, like Apple’s first party app does. Thus, third parties can go through its ML libraries and routines.

Many reporters have reached the FaceApp that why they don’t let alert the user that the photo is processed in the cloud. And also that they retain these photos of users or not.

FaceApp has previously also fielded accusations of “racism” for lightening skin tones. In these era, privacy is a great concern for all the social media users. Photo access is also a bigger security risk. Thus, users must go through apps‘ privacy policies and terms of service before signing up to use them.


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