FaceApp is a mobile application for iOS and Android developed by Russian company Wireless Lab. The app generates highly realistic transformations of faces in photographs by using neural networks based on artificial intelligence. The app can transform a face to make it smile, look younger, look older, or change gender.
|Initial release||December 31, 2016|
|Operating system||iOS, Android|
FaceApp was launched on iOS in January 2017 and on Android in February 2017. There are multiple options to manipulate the photo uploaded such as editor options of adding an impression, make-up, smiles, hair colors, hairstyles, glasses, age or beards. Filters, lens blur and backgrounds along with overlays, tattoos, and vignettes are also a part of the app. The gender change transformations of FaceApp have attracted particular interest from the LGBT and transgender communities, due to their ability to realistically simulate the appearance of a person as the opposite gender.
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 Platform 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. The specific section of the apps terms of service that drew concern were as follows:
A "hot" transformation was available in the app in 2017 supposedly making its users appear more physically attractive, but this was accused of racism for lightening the skin color of black people and making them look more European. The feature was briefly renamed "spark" before being removed. Founder and chief executive Yaroslav Goncharov apologised, describing the situation as "an unfortunate side-effect of the underlying neural network caused by the training set bias, not intended behaviour" and announcing that a "complete fix" was being worked on. In August that year, FaceApp once again faced criticism when it featured "ethnicity filters" depicting "White", "Black", "Asian", and "Indian". The filters were immediately removed from the app.
- "Artificial intelligence", Wikipedia, 2019-09-18, retrieved 2019-09-19
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- McGoogan, Cara (25 April 2017). "FaceApp: Viral selfie app in racism storm over 'hot mode' that lightens skin colour". The Telegraph. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
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