I am sure every one of you would have heard of FaceApp by now. FaceApp is a new social trend nowadays. Everybody from an average person to a celebrity is posting old pictures of themselves on their social media accounts.
But a sudden boom in social media has also led to some privacy concerns about FaceApp’s Terms and Conditions and how the app works.
So, in this post, I am going to explain to you the working of FaceApp and also talk about whether the app is safe to use.
FaceApp is a mobile application (available on both android and ios) developed by Russian company Wireless Lab. It uses Artifical Intelligence to perform highly realistic transformations on faces in photographs.
FaceApp was initially released on iOS in January 2017 and on Android in February 2017. FaceApp gives you multiple options to manipulate the photo, such as adding expressions, Gender Swap, adding a beard, age, and many more.
The age manipulation option of FaceApp is the most widely used feature and is also one of the main reason for app popularity.
Now, the way the FaceApp works is quite simple. I will here explain only the aging feature of the FaceApp. Most of the features work in the same way as the aging feature.
Before FaceApp can apply its manipulation on the face in a photograph, it first needs to know where the face is in the picture. Once a face is found in the image, next we determine the facial landmarks.
For that, it uses a facial landmark detector. The job of the facial landmark detector is to detect where facial features like eyes, nose, chin, mouth appear on the face in a photograph.
Why we need these facial features is for different manipulations to work. For example, if we need to add smile expression on a face, then the application needs to know where the mouth is present on the face.
Once we locate all the facial features, then any manipulation we want can be applied on the face.
However, how does it accurately adds wrinkles and all other manipulation on the face?
For that, it uses Artifical Intelligence. Artificial intelligence trains on thousands of old people images. The purpose of doing this is to make AI learn how an old face looks like meaning how wrinkles look and where wrinkle lines appear on the face and also how the hair looks.
Now that the AI is trained, and we know the facial features of the face, using this information, the AI perfectly applies wrinkles and all that other stuff to give that aging effect. That's how FaceApp aging feature and most of the other functions work.
Now the process that I have given above need not be necessarily correct, and I may be missing some information. However, having some experience of working with Computer vision and Artifical intelligence technologies, I am confident that this is the way FaceApp works.
FaceApp, like any other photo editing app, needs access to your photos to work. So theoretically, any app can upload all of your pictures in the cloud although none of those reports have surfaced yet.
Any images that we modify using the app gets uploaded to the cloud for processing because doing machine learning processing is tough and cannot be done by the processor in your smartphone.
The developers have said that the image uploaded to the cloud is deleted within a couple of days. The first reason being to avoid having to process the same images twice and also to improve their product. They could use all of the pictures we upload to train FaceApp's machine learning models more accurately.
In the end, I would like to add that there is no guarantee of safety in the digital world. For example, Google photos also have access to your gallery, just like FaceApp. It's just a matter of trust whether you trust that organization to keep your sensitive information or not.
I hope my explanation of how FaceApp work was simple enough to make you understand its working. If you think that I missed something, do let me know in the comment section.