If you’ve taken a break from social media lately and recently just come back, you might be really confused and found yourself with a feed full of wrinkle-ridden faces. No, your absence from social media hasn’t created an Interstellar-like time-jump and everyone has aged 50+ years- for some reason FaceApp is back, and for whatever weirder reason, everyone is obsessed with it. From that one person you never really talked to in high school but for some reason follow, to the likes of Drake and The Jonas Brothers, everyone is posting horrifyingly hyper-realistic portraits of what they would look like if they were 80. The seemingly frivolous #FaceAppChallenge is all the rage right now and raising a lot of questions; Does anyone really think they look good as a prune? Does Russia have access to my Finsta? Should I up my SPF?
Despite its initial release being in 2017, FaceApp has skyrocketed in popularity recently. In a time where we all chase eternal youth and run away from age with anti-aging products and vampire facials, this challenge isn’t what you expect to be on trend. Everyone on social media tends to put their best selfie forward riddled with layers and layers of filter, curating all their most flattering moments of themselves frozen in time. This makes the #FaceAppChallenge quite possibly the weirdest flex of all time.
But what are we flexing here? On the off-chance someone puts their face through the app and somehow looks good, is the flex that they actually think they look good? Or perhaps for some it’s the opposite, and posting their simulated trip to the future is a flex of self-acceptance and a rejection of being #ForeverYoung? Admittedly, all this “flex” talk is making me want to do the opposite in the hopes that my face atrophies leaving my face wrinkle-less. However, a 2011 study suggests there’s a positive to all this flexing.
Researchers found that subjects that viewed age-progressed renderings of themselves expressed greater interest in investing in long-term rewards, ditching experiences and actions that only yielded rewards short-term. Maybe I should up my SPF game and drop the tanning oil. Goodbye, #HotGirlSummer.
Not quite. It’s important to note that the pictures presented to the subjects were paired with an avatar they could interact with and questions about themselves- this paints a vivid picture of what the future could be more than a filter could. That being said, it’s a bit of a reach that one picture of your possible future self would prompt you to start saving for retirement. Everyone wants different things out of life, so who’s to say someone’s aged FaceApp self wouldn’t urge them to save up for a face-lift instead?
Whatever positive decision making using FaceApp’s age filter may have incited, ironically comes from decision that may have consequences scarier than you may age like blue cheese rather than a fine wine- downloading the app at all.
There’s a great deal of controversy and concern stirring up over the access that FaceApp has to our personal information. Developer Joshua Nozzi brought attention to the app’s security risks, stating in a now deleted tweet that he believes FaceApp is uploading our photos:
While others have brought up concern over its Russian ownership:
But how solid are these claims? Since Nozzi’s tweet, there’s been a lot of fallout. Initially there was mass concern, but just as the internet does with most sensationalist headlines, they took his statement and ran with it. After the media frenzy calmed down, evidence emerged that this might be fake(ish) news.
Elliot Anderson, a security researcher, tested this theory himself to find that FaceApp only took photos users submitted to company servers. The location of these servers are based in Amazon data centers in the US, not Russia.
Nozzi has since then apologized for his part in spreading misinformation, but says that legitimate concerns still remain over the app’s usage of our photos. He states:
The biggest oddity is that the app asks for full, unfettered access to your photos (on iOS) without really needing to. It then begins doing … something … with them that takes time, as they appear a few at a time, and rather slowly. The fact is, it doesn’t need access to your photos at all.
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.
All we can really do is keep a vigilant eye on what we share. So take the extra minute or two to read the fine print, do a Pintrest face mask every now and then, and don’t believe everything you read online- stress causes wrinkles.