Face-swapping apps that use AI, also called “deep fake” apps, have become very popular in the past few years. Users can swap their face with that of a celebrity, put their face in a video that was already made, or swap faces with friends. Even though these apps were made for fun, they have caused a lot of worry about data privacy, spreading false information, and stealing people’s likenesses.
If you use or want to use a face swapping app, you should know exactly what you’re getting into. Let’s talk about the data of deep fake apps and what you can do to protect your personal information safe when you use them.
What kind of information do face-swapping apps gather?
Even though it’s easier, you should stop doing that. Before signing up and agreeing to give your information, you should always look over these policies.
VPN Overview looked at the privacy policies of the top 40 face-changing apps on Google Play and Apple’s App Store. There were aging apps, gender-swapping apps, beauty apps, face-swapping apps, and body-editing apps looked at.
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The VPN Overview study found that these apps most often collect eight types of data:
- Contacts by phone
- Information about credit/debit cards
- Access to the device’s camera and photo gallery
- Information from connected public social media accounts
- User’s exact location
- All of the content made with the app
- PII can determine who you are, like your first and last name, address, and phone number.
- Usage data, such as which features a user uses and how often they use the app.
Photo retention is a big story in the news in the last few years. People often wonder what these apps do with your face photos after they have been processed and how long they keep them. According to a study by VPN Review, most face-changing apps delete your photos after they have been changed.
Not every app that lets you switch faces collects all of the above information, but some do. Most services get more money than they need to do their jobs. Why does an app need to know your exact location in order to tell you what you’ll look like in 50 years?
Popular face-swapping apps have made people worried about their privacy
In the last few years, a lot of apps that change your face have been in the news because of privacy data.
FaceApp: In 2019, there was a big fuss about the Russian app FaceApp after a user revealed that the app claimed a license to use users’ photos, names, usernames, and likeness for any reason, even for commercial purposes. The FBI warned people not to use the app at the end of 2019.
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ZAO: In 2019, ZAO had the same trouble as FaceApp. The user agreement for the Chinese app ZAO gave it full and permanent rights to use user-generated content in any way it wanted.
Reface: Reface, first made by a Ukrainian developer in 2020 and called “Doublicat,” was criticized for the same reasons as FaceApp and ZAO: it gave itself a permanent license to use user photos. Since then, Reface has said that it deletes photos from its Google Cloud platform one hour after they are uploaded.
How can you protect your privacy safe?
Face-changing apps can collect and store data about you if you use them. The best way to keep this from happening is to not use them. But if you decide to use one of these apps, there are ways to stay safe.
Careful about what you download
Check to see if the app comes from a developer you can trust. Check the name of the developer and do a quick search on the Internet to see what comes up. Only get apps from official places, like the Google Play Store or the App Store. Also, check the app’s release date and user reviews. Most of the time, you can trust apps that have been around longer and have had bugs fixed more than once and apps that have both good and bad reviews.
Read the app’s rules and terms of service.
As a general rule, apps and services shouldn’t be able to access your social media accounts. When they ask you to sign in with Facebook, Twitter, or another profile, sign up with your email address instead. The same is true for apps that swap faces. Protect your personal information on your social media account by keeping your profile private and not letting an app post or share your profile.
Keep the OS on your device up-to-date.
Keeping your device and apps updated is a good way to keep safe online. Check for software updates often or set up reminders to let you know when new versions are out. Updates usually fix bugs or holes in apps, so if you don’t get the latest version, you put yourself at risk.
Be careful with face-swapping apps
Many people are worried that face-swapping apps will keep photos of them or sell their likenesses. But these apps collect a lot more information about you than just your face, so remember that the next time you want to use one. If you follow these tips, you’ll keep safe.