Who doesn’t wonder about how they will age, what they will look like in 10, 20, or even 30 years? For anyone who’s ever been curious, FaceApp has the answer. The free app, which has been downloaded an absolutely staggering 100-plus million times, has in the past used its AI-guided algorithm to transform photos in a variety of ways. You can make an unsmiling face grin; you can gender-swap yourself or anyone else from male to female or vice-versa; you can add facial hair; or you can knock a decade off your looks.
But the latest variation on the theme—projecting how a person would look with (more) wrinkles, laugh lines, crow’s feet, etc.—has really caught fire.
Plenty of celebrities got in on the act, including Mindy Kaling, Carrie Underwood, Kevin Hart, the Queer Eye crew, LeBron James, and Gordon Ramsay. There was even a whole meme born about how the astonishingly ever-young-looking Paul Rudd couldn’t be affected by the app’s aging powers.
The Dark Side of App Amusement
So is this age-me photo editor just good fun—or something a bit sinister? In the wake of the app’s skyrocketing success this past week, some people said the aging app was all about shock value—getting people to recoil in horror at their crepey-skinned future. (But that’s their issue if they choose to view their older versions as frightening.)
Then a digital-age anxiety emerged: Plenty of people started freaking out when they realized that FaceApp is based in Russia, and that when you download it, you may grant the business the right to access and use your photos as they please. FaceApp says that’s not the case, stating that within 48 hours of uploading, most images were deleted from its servers, and that it didn’t vacuum up additional images, only the ones being edited, according to the BBC. PC Mag corroborated that, reporting that Aviran Hazum, a researcher at the antivirus company Check Point, said, “We have found nothing out of the ordinary in this app.”
Whether you want to see yourself circa 2030 or 2050 or not is, of course, your choice, but the security gurus caution people to always scan the fine print (go grab your readers) before being roped into downloading the latest fun app.