FaceApp. Should you be worried?

by | Jul 19, 2019 | Lifestyle

Reading time: 5 minutes

The application that solves the inquiry so many of us have always had. How will my partner look when he/she is older? Can I pull off blond? How would Megan Rapinoe’s purple hair look on me? Is my face suitable for blue contacts?

FaceApp to the rescue. A simple method to assess how you would look with [fill the blank]. However, there is a bit of controversy with the Terms and Conditions of this, new, raging, popular and breathtaking application. It seems they could… like… sell your data… Sell your FACE! Imagine!

It is outrageous, it is despicable, it is frightening, and most of all, it is logical, predictable and obvious. Let’s not forget that when something is free, YOU are the product. And FaceApp is… free…

But, have you noticed that… I don’t know, Gmail is free, Facebook is free, Whatsapp is free, Instagram is free, Snapchat, Twitch, Reddit, Twitter, the newspaper, the TV channel, LinkedIn, Telegram, Disqus, Medium… They are all free.

Did you think that the server manufacturers, the army of programmers and UI designers, the finance bankers, the printer manufacturers, the distribution networks, the installers, the A/C suppliers, the landlords, the counties where these companies reside all got together in a room and decided the world needed their joint sacrifice in the name of marginally improving the lives of some people?

Let’s get real, we have given up privacy for the benefit of free stuff. And we have not minded it as long as we didn’t know about it, or as long as it was within our “comfort zone” in terms of what someone else knows about us.

However, FaceApp is a bridge too far. That’s my face. Mine. How dare they?

You are right, in every way that you are wrong, of course. See, Apple came up with face recognition to unlock the iPhone. And then they gave us these avatars that would mimic our face.All to map out how the 43 muscles in our face behave on different emotions, facial structures and age. Cool

Android did not take too long to do something similar. That’s Google, by the way. But before that, we all cheered that fingerprint unlock was a thing. Who has time to input a code into a screen the 140 times a day we look at our phone. That’s just too much!

Then Instagram came up with these filters, to encourage you to video yourself with bunny rabbit ears. And with duck face. And with pouty lips. Cool!

Rabbit ears, rabbit ears everywhere

It’s funny, it seems we don’t mind anonymous companies to have access to all our stuff, as long as we are certain that honey, friend, co-worker or lunch partner are restricted from that citadel of personal information, our phones.

Great. So, now that we have determined we have been quite promiscuous with our personal information, let’s look at how this information has been dealt with…

Wells Fargo was convicted of creating thousands of accounts in the names of unsuspecting clients, charging them, stealing their money, and paying their executives bonuses for doing so.

Facebook has been the subject of plenty of attacks that resulted in the leak of millions upon millions of user information.

Various Internet Service Providers have also leaked customer data, let alone sold it to SMS spammers…

Shall I go on?

Ok, businesses have been “hacked” on Google Maps and diverted the clientele to bogus or competing outlets, in some cases driving them completely into bankruptcy.

Lenovo confirmed hacker had leaked 36TB of data from their servers.

Hackers leaked the tax information of 5 million Bulgarians

British Airways, TripAdvisor, Instagram, Fappening… The list is endless. The reality is that our private data is, alas, not so private anymore.

Now, in truth, it was never that private anyway. Friends, family, neighbors, local authorities always kind of knew what you were about and what you were into. Our privacy firewall only worked with those we met outside our normal circles. Technology has only broadened that “normal circle” to include, pretty much, the entire planet. And we only have ourselves to blame. For we were freely giving our data away, the governments we voted for implemented surveillance systems we, through our votes, confirmed we were ok with. Our curiosity for other people’s lives kept the hackers in their task to steal what was available.

Sure, there is truly malicious intent out there. Identity theft is an issue, but the numbers do not justify the outrage. You are more likely to die of obesity related complications than suffering identity theft that results in financial loss. But it’s my face, my data, my self!

Your face was already out there. On all your social media sites, and through friends tagging you. FaceApp is just another one. Get over it.

Enter GDPR

Now, European regulations have come up with this new framework of protection of privacy. And it is absolutely fabulous. In the way that it is very well written, on high-quality paper, and with words so good Donald Trump invented them.

Companies with your data need to tell you explicitly they have it, and they are forced, by very stern Law, to scrap it every six months. Cookies on your computer are now advertised in big capital letters. The masses have spoken. WE ARE TAKING OUR PRIVACY BACK!

Really? You think so?

The only thing this is going to do is create a market for “Consultancy” companies that will advice small businesses, you know, those with limited resources, how they need to treat customer information. For a fee. Increasing their cost and making their lives a bit harder.

And, of course, if you do not abide by them, you could fall within the claws of the GDPR laws, be fined, and driven out of business for your dereliction of duty. You terrible cake shop with customer data over 3 years old! That will teach you!

The result is that large companies, with legal teams, with marketing teams, with Data Science teams will algorithm the law into their databases. Tweak here and there, and be done with it. The smaller ones, keeping customer or potential customer info on an excel file, will not. And become vulnerable.

Worry not, Google, Facebook, the ISP will offer the service for a tiny little minuscule fee to do it for you. I mean, they have the technology, the computers, the people and the expertise to do it. Need only look at their stellar reputation on safe-keeping of the data. And, by the way, while they hold your company’s data tightly and legally, they promise with all their might, not to look at it. Swear to god, hope to die.

Yep, that seems to work. Let’s do THAT…