Is FaceApp safe?

Privacy news
6 mins

Everyone is posting beautifully rendered photos of themselves on social media right now thanks to Lensa AI, an app that uses artificial intelligence to create artful images of you. But before Lensa, there was FaceApp—which went similarly viral in 2019.

What is FaceApp?

FaceApp is a photo-editing app that shot into prominence in 2017. In 2019, it made a comeback of sorts due to the popular #FaceAppchallenge of celebrities uploading a rendition of what their future selves may look like.

How does FaceApp work?

FaceApp works by scanning the faces of the people that have uploaded or taken photos on their app. It then uses Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN)—a type of machine learning software—to create realistic images based on different categories. With FaceApp, users can alter their images to look older or younger, or even make it seem like they’ve grown a beard.

Watch the video below to see how to use FaceApp:

Lensa, on the other hand, uses a deep-learning algorithm to create its arty photos. Lensa recommends that users submit between 10 to 20 different selfies for the best results, with a variety of backgrounds, facial expressions, and angles.

So, is FaceApp safe?

Despite the seemingly harmless nature of the social media trend, privacy concerns were raised following a 2019 tweet (now deleted) by security researcher Joshua Nozzi.

Nozzi published an apology of sorts, saying he “was wrong to have posted the accusation without testing it first.” But many publications picked up on that tweet, with one loudly proclaiming that “Russians own all your old photos.”

The issue attracted attention at the highest echelons of the U.S. government, with Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer making an official request to the FBI to conduct a national security investigation into FaceApp.

FaceApp has mentioned that it directly collects user information such as gallery access, email addresses, and other contact information. Additionally, the app also collects analytics data, cookies, device identifiers, and metadata. For many of us, this might be too much information.

Why is FaceApp so popular?

One of the biggest reasons people continue to use these apps and other forms of photo-altering apps is because it creates hilarious photos. In addition, these apps encourage users to share the images they’ve created on social media, which then encourages more people to want to try these apps out for fear of missing out.

Privacy concerns about using FaceApp

FaceApp’s core team, including its CEO and developers, operate out of St. Petersburg, which may cause some concern.

The app’s terms of use are also worth paying attention to: Using FaceApp grants the app and its parent company “a nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully paid license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display your User Content.” In addition, the app’s privacy policy requires you to consent to the transfer of information to the U.S. or any other countries.

FaceApp owns all your content

Once uploaded, FaceApp has free rein to do whatever it likes with it, including altering, distributing, or publicly displaying it.

However, some have argued the concerns are overblown. In a statement to NBC News, security researcher Elliot Anderson said that “in general, this app is not asking a lot of data from the user.”

In a statement to TechCrunch, FaceApp’s CEO Yaroslav Goncharov directly addressed the controversy and accusations of privacy invasion. He stated that “we don’t sell or share user data with any third parties,” adding that “all FaceApp features are available without logging in, and you can log in only from the settings screen. As a result, 99% of users don’t log in; therefore, we don’t have access to any data that could identify a person.”

So while your awkward selfies probably won’t be part of a massive database, the FaceApp controversy reveals potential privacy concerns in our embrace of all things tech.

What about Lensa?

If you’re wondering whether Lensa is safer, the company’s privacy policy says the photos you upload are stored on its servers but for no longer than 24 hours, and photos you upload or generate are not used to target users or sold to advertisers. However, it does share your personal data with other businesses.

Perhaps the greatest concern surrounding Lensa is the ability to create fake nude images of someone. If the person did not consent to such images, they could be considered revenge porn.

What does FaceApp do with your data?

In an interview with Forbes, Goncharov maintains that the app does not share data with Russian authorities or use the photos uploaded by users for any other reason than to provide users the ability to edit them. The CEO further stresses that FaceApp deletes photos from its cloud servers within 24 to 48 hours after they’ve been edited. 

Ultimately, it’s difficult to determine exactly what FaceApp does with user data. That said, we highly recommend that caution when using any sort of app that requires access to such personal information. 

But what about my privacy?

There’s virtually no difference between FaceApp and Facebook’s terms of service, which also grant the company a “non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate and create derivative works of your content.”

Let’s not forget that the crux of the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a seemingly innocent quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” Many quickly accepted all the end-user agreements with no thought of what that might encompass.

FaceApp alternatives

FaceApp isn’t the only image-modifying app out there. Below, we share nine other apps that allow you to edit photos and generate interesting profile pics. 

Photo Lab 

Photo Lab Editor is an app that includes over 1,000 effects for editing photographs. Change the background of your images, give your selfies a makeover or make fun edits to your pictures with just a few taps on the app. 

Photo Lab Editor is available for download on the Apple App Store here.

Face Warp 

Turn any selfie or image with friends into something hilarious with the Face Warp app. Through the app, you can exaggerate particular facial features and give yourself bug-like eyes or a bigger nose. 

Face Warp is available for download on the Google Play store here


AirBrush is a no-frills photo editing app that lets you perfect any selfie you take. You can remove imperfections like pimples or wrinkles, even skin tone, whiten teeth, and more through the app.. 

AirBrush is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.


As its name suggests, Oldify lets you see what you’d look like in the future when you’re old and grey. The app also lets you record surprisingly realistic videos of yourself as an old person. 

Oldify is available for download on the Apple App Store.


Yet another app that does what its names suggest, Baldify basically turns you bald. What’s perhaps hilarious is that you’re able to select different types of styles. 

Baldify is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.


Owned by the same makers of Oldify and Baldify, Fatify turns any selfie you take and shows you what you’ll look like if you were fat. 

Fatify is available for download on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Face Camera 

Face Camera is a selfie app that lets you edit photos with adorable animated stickers. The app also has filters that elevate any photo you take. 

Face Camera is available for download on the Google Play Store.

Beard Man 

Beard Man is an excellent app to use if you’ve always wondered what you’d look like with a beard. 

Beard Man is available for download on the Google Play Store.

Face Swap 

Face Swap is a video editing app that lets you swap faces live on camera with your friends and family or with the app’s preloaded set of filters. 

Face Swap is available for download on the Google Play Store.


FAQ: About FaceApp safety

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