Experts concerned over trendy FaceApp run by Russian developers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An old app is resurfacing and making people on your social media timeline look a little older than normal.

According to the app analytics website App Annie, FaceApp is the top-ranked app in the app store in 121 countries, and 100 million people have downloaded it on GooglePlay.

“I mean, it’s gone viral, so I know a lot of people who’ve used it,” said Carmel resident Kirsten Weed.

But Weed hasn’t downloaded it.

“I personally haven’t used it just because I heard from family members that they can get access to your personal information,” she said.

Others, however, are following the trend.

“I got it because I thought it was funny because everyone had them. So I thought it would be funny to see,” said Indianapolis resident Makaley Kaczmarek.

Access to personal information is the primary concern for many after learning the app is run by Russian developers with a server is housed in the United States.

“There is always a concern anytime you download a new app, what the terms and conditions say,” said Purdue University Associate Professor of Computer Information Technology Dr. Kathryn Seigfried-Spellar.

Those who have accepted FaceApp’s terms and conditions have agreed to give the company access to use, adapt, or publish the photos you submit.

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. When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.

“I obviously did not read the terms and conditions, because does anybody really read the terms and conditions? You just click accept and go to town,” said Kaczmarek.

Dr. Seigfried-Spellar clarifies exactly what agreeing to those terms and conditions actually means.

“It’s not that the Russian company or this app specifically has access to our photo gallery. But instead, what is really concerning is that anytime you upload an image to be analyzed, it’s analyzed through the server, which means it’s going to be in the cloud,” said Dr. Seigfried-Spellar.

There are some on high alert after learning of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

“I think historically, especially with the past election, I think there has been a concern about the role Russia has played and how much data they really do have on individuals and specifically, their ability to influence people,” said Dr. Seigfried-Spellar.

She says regardless, people need to be aware of the apps they download and the information they could be giving away.

“I understand no one is going to read that very long legal document. So I think the best thing to do is do a little research before you download something,” said Dr. Seigfried-Spellar.

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