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All about FaceApp, the viral photo app that’s come under scrutiny for keeping your data

FaceApp, the viral photo-editing app that can make you look old or swap your gender using artificial intelligence, saw a resurgence in popularity this week. But many were quick to take issue with the Russian company’s vague terms of use, which quickly resulted in privacy concerns. Here’s a look at everything we know about the company behind the app. Whenever we share personal data or photos with an app, there’s always the question of how much privacy we’re sacrificing by sharing information with third parties in exchange for compelling services or features. Such concerns surged this week as interest around FaceApp, the viral app that uses artificial intelligence to apply realistic filters and effects to photos, once again flared up two years after its 2017 debut.

FaceApp experienced a resurgence in popularity this week as social-media feeds were flooded with selfies from celebrities and others using the app’s old-age filter. But the Russia-based company’s unclear terms of use, which indicate the firm retains the right to use photos and content uploaded to the app, quickly sparked privacy concerns. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote a letter urging the FBI and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the app, which he said “could pose a national security risk,” given that the app is headquartered in Russia, and it’s unclear how data about American citizens is being shared with third parties or foreign governments. The Democratic National Committee also warned 2020 presidential campaigns not to use the app, CNN reported on Wednesday. Yaroslav Goncharov, the creator of the app, has since sent statements to The Washington Post and TechCrunch in response to some of these concerns. He said the firm uploads only photos that the user chooses and that despite the vague terms of service, FaceApp isn’t using the images it gathers for anything other than the express purposes of the app, The Washington Post reported. Little information about FaceApp’s creator is available, but here’s a look at what we do know.

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