What would you look like several decades from now?
Many social media users around the world apparently became curious to know, so they used a Russian-made application called FaceApp that “ages” one’s selfies and gives a preview of one’s likely future appearance.
But now there is talk that FaceApp poses individual and national security risks, and the United States and the European Union have launched a probe into the possible violation of users’ privacy.
Wireless Lab, FaceApp’s developer, insists it is safe. The CEO says Russian authorities did not have any access to any user data and that most photos are deleted from its servers within 48 hours. The app, he added, did not use the pictures for any other purpose, reported Agence France Presse.
Still, experts say such assurances from the developer are not enough. There is Russia’s general reputation when it comes to cyber issues. Users cannot delete the photos on their own—they have to request FaceApp to do so, according to TechCrunch, a tech and start-up website. The terms of service are not specific enough, and The Verge, a technology news outfit, reports they may not be compliant with GDPR.
Then again, other experts say many other apps on people’s devices already probably commit the same privacy violations anyway.
Social media have become so common that people take them for granted and do not realize the consequences of sharing information about themselves. We say we worry about giving away too much personal data, yet we voluntarily—and eagerly—check into this or that establishment, post pictures of vacation spots we visit or food we eat, and establish a predictable story of how we live our lives.
It’s quite natural to respond to an application’s interesting feature—not just this latest craze. But danger lurks everywhere, both in the physical world and in the virtual one. We should be reminded that familiarity with social media does not diminish the pitfalls that go with it, especially since these are too technologically sophisticated for the common person to grasp or even imagine.
Two reminders, then, could be a handy, catch-all guide: Know that when you put something out there on the Internet, you lose complete control of it, however you believe. And when in doubt (whether to post/ comment/ download or not), just don’t.