FaceApp Brings in New Era of Global Social Media Privacy Theft – by Dr. Chris Strasser

Exploiting private personal information is no longer the domain of U.S. and European big tech. This month brought alarm from the NY Post to Wired Magazine over the privacy terms demanded for “free use” of the FaceApp application originating in Russia. Social media posts from the likes of Drake, the Jonas Brothers and Kevin Hart raised awareness of this application as a fun way to see your future self after the aging process.

The problem is that FaceApp’s user agreement states that “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” (FaceApp Terms).
It’s not clear whether this is so much a secretive effort at privacy theft or just a cultural clash. While Chuck Schumer was demanding an FBI investigation, a Forbes staff writer contacted the founder of FaceApp and heard a convincing story of a new company overwhelmed by interest and privacy questions. FaceApp Founder, Yaroslav Goncharov, claims he plans to take privacy very seriously; however, since he saw FaceApp emerging as the new “social network for faces,” he used terms and conditions similar to Instagram.

What does seem clear is that our global society is just beginning to get the big picture (pun intended) when it comes to privacy rights, the impact of ignoring them, and the lack of governance at a global level. As social media becomes more universal, what each culture thinks about privacy will also need to become more universal and normalized. In the meantime, do not take those user terms and agreements for granted.