- The Democratic National Committee reportedly advised 2020 presidential campaigns to delete the Russian photo-editing app, FaceApp, on Wednesday.
- The app, which can age the subject of a photo to look elderly, has recently gone viral as celebrities and influencers shared the old-looking version of themselves on social media.
- “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,” DNC chief security officer Bob Lord said in the security alert obtained by CNN.
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2020 presidential campaigns reportedly received an alert from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on Wednesday advising them to delete FaceApp, the viral Russian photo-editing app whose terms of service allow it to use a person’s photos and likeness for unspecified purposes.
“If you or any of your staff have already used the app, we recommend that they delete the app immediately,” DNC chief security officer Bob Lord reportedly said in the security alert obtained by CNN.
In the alert, Lord reportedly explained that “FaceApp was developed by Russians” and that he had “significant concerns” about the app “having access to your photos, or even simply uploading a selfie.”
FaceApp, currently the most popular free app on the Apple App Store and Google Play, alters users’ faces by using artificial intelligence. The app is blowing up on social media now because of its filter that can instantly age users.
By agreeing to FaceApp’s terms of service, users give the company permission to use their voice and likeness for commercial purposes; FaceApp has the right to store this data even after users delete the app.
Forensic News reported on Wednesday that FaceApp moved to Moscow’s Skolkovo Innovation Center in 2018.
“We are not associated with Skolkovo Ventures in any way,” FaceApp CEO Yaroslav Goncharov wrote in an email to Mashable reporter Karissa Bell, according to Bell. “Skolkovo is a business park with a lot of different companies. We have not received any funding from any funds associated with any governments.”
The DNC has reason to be wary of any potential Russian interference in the 2020 presidential campaign. In 2016, WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails that had been hacked by Russians. The DNC hired Bob Lord to strengthen cyber defences in January 2018.
The DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Kevin Webb contributed to this report.
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