IS FACEAPP A TERRIBLE AND DETESTABLE PLOT BY RUSSIANS TO GET OUR FACES IN THEIR SERVER? –

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Faceapp, the  Russian app designed to change our faces for fun is in the news. The #faceappchallenge is going viral globally and as  it seems  that the Americans and probably the West aren’t comfortable. They have the right to be anyway , the Americans have this “relationship” with the Russians and none of them are making pretense about this.

Faceapp has reminded us the kind of frosty relationship they have and both countries have the right to protect their data and countries but should it be at the expense of fun loving citizens in a highly demanding and terrifying world?

Though in the West,we know that the Russians don’t always find favour in the West and they do not return this favour either. The Russians over the years since the demise of Soviet Union (USSR)has demonstrated technological capacity and this is to the amazement and bemusement of the West. Lately, the Russians are in the news again, they have always been in the new anyway mostly for military hardware and espionage accusation and counter accusation but as today they are in the news because of software not hardware – Faceapp.

Let us know a bit of this newsmaking and breaking app , according to Wikipedia, “ FaceApp is a mobile application for iOS and Android developed by Russian company Wireless Lab which uses neural network technology to automatically generate highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs. The app can transform a f ace to make it smile, look younger, look older, or change gender. FaceApp was launched on iOS in January 2017 and on Android in February 2017.”

“In 2019, FaceApp attracted criticism in both the press and on social media over the privacy of user data. In response to questions, the company’s founder, Yaroslav Goncharov, stated that user data and uploaded images were not being transferred to Russia but instead processed on servers running in the Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services US senator Chuck Schumer expressed “serious concerns regarding both the protection of the data that is being aggregated as well as whether users are aware of who may have access to it” and called for an FBI investigation into the app”, Wikipedia added.

The West aren’t comfortable with the popularity of this app so it seems, the mindset of anything software or social media app must be tucked somewhere in California and must have an office in Silicon Valley! This might be the mindset of the West, just like saying that every pretty and sexy lady must either be a blonde or Latino! Never imagined that the “mean” looking Russians can be social. Here we are today, everybody is shouting and saying, it is an espionage, we the lesser mortals see it as an app for fun! We ain’t fighting terrorism or are we in espionage, we just want to change our look and that is what the FaceApp deals with , it is as simple s that. We can leave the espionage to the intelligence especially the KGB, FBI and MOSSAD. We just want to have fun – period.

Criticism , apprehension and distrust have trailed this app and we are awashed with media ranting and it is as if that folks wants to take way the fun from us, just like taking away candies from he kids. US Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer described the app as “deeply troubling”deeply troubling” that personal data of US citizens could go to a “hostile foreign power”. In support of his position, security officer Bob Lord reportedly told staff”It’s not clear at this point what the privacy risks are, but what is clear is that the benefits of avoiding the app outweigh the risks”.

“The app that you’re willingly giving all your facial data to says the company’s location is in Saint-Petersburg, Russia,” tweeted the New York Times’s Charlie Warzel.

We know Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and tons of other social media apps have our photos also, we know that Russians and other non allied countries still use these apps also and why have they not raised alarm as the United States are doing now? Are the US crying Wolf where there is none or are they not comfortable with FaceApp in Russia and not in California? Would they raise this alarm if the company is in USA? Why didn’t they raise such an alarm during the Facebook 10 year challenge ? A lot of questions that we are seeking for answers.

According to FaceApp’s terms of service, when you use the app you grant it a “perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide” license to do whatever it wants with your photos. However, while this may be awful, it’s worth pointing out that it’s the same as the privacy policy of basically every other tech service and platform.

We know the position of USA as it regards to Russian technology , we saw it during the Trump elections and campaign with accusation and counter accusation. Do we in Africa worry about this?

ANTHONY EMEKA NWOSU

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