If you’re on any kind of social media – and who isn’t – you’ll have likely noticed your newsfeed full of hilarious/horrific shots of your friends and family transformed into pensioners by the wonders of AI.

All good clean fun, right? Well, not really. Because, as exposed by TechCrunch, there are some sinister clauses lurking in the app’s terms and conditions that many users are probably overlooking – or indeed dismissing amid a GDPR landscape that delivers us millions* of opt-in pop ups.

It turns out that by allowing the app access to your photostream, the sneaky chaps at FaceApp roll into the deal that they can then use your picture for anything they choose, at any time. So, for example, if they decided to place your before and after shots on the side of a London bus, or broadcast on a digi screen in Times Square, you’d have to put up and shut up.

National media scrutiny has fallen on how the tool is developed and registered in Russia, with question marks over the security of any data users have unwittingly handed over. These concerns hinge around how images are uploaded to the cloud for processing rather than locally on your device – and you can select a picture to add to the app even if you’ve enabled on Apple to never allow such access.

As a PR agency, we’re well versed in GDPR compliance and ethical use of data, and we’re proud to work with like-minded clients, such as Clisckco, a global one-to-one marketing agency whose industry-leading technology is underpinned by an ‘ethical by design’ approach to data and privacy.

Our advice to users of these kind of social media tools that enforce data sharing is:
• Know your stuff. That means actually reading the contract you’re entering into – don’t just click ‘agree’
• Consider seriously what personal data you’re willing to offer up on a plate to an anonymous company, and make yourself aware of the possible implications
• Vote with your feet. If you’re not happy to volunteer use of your imagery unfettered to a third party, don’t do it – and let your friends and family know why, in case they’ve overlooked the bigger picture
• Audit your privacy and access settings on your iPhone or Android because you could inadvertently be sharing your images with other tools too.
And finally, if you’ve already done the deed – and a staggering 80 million have since the app was introduced in 2017 – enjoy the result, have a giggle and remember it as a learning for future – knowledge is power after all.
*maybe not millions, artistic licence, but a LOT.