A lot has happened on the internet so far in 2019. Taylor Swift is coming out with a new album and is feuding with people again; Keanu Reeves is the internet’s sweet heart for seemingly being a real stand-up guy; everyone started Marie Kondoing their possessions; Marvel ended their Avengers storyline with a snap; the US Women’s National Team won the world cup for the 4th time; Facebook was in some hot water; and we’ve seen a lot of photo filter applications trend.
Most recently, an app called FaceApp took over the various newsfeeds by making people look old, sometimes to horrific results. I speak from personal experience. When the old-age filter was applied to my picture, the result was something I’d sooner forget. Hopefully I’ll age a little better than FaceApp predicts, but only time will tell.
But all of that isn’t why we’re here today, because in the age of data leaks and an increase in cyber crime even a silly viral photo app should bring up some privacy concerns.
I know, I know, we can’t just have fun anymore.
It’s pretty easy to find articles all over the internet about the recent controversy surrounding FaceApp’s collection of data, so I won’t get into all that. But times like this are a good reminder of what all we’re agreeing to in terms of service agreements when we use these fun apps. For instance, this concerning sentence is in FaceApp’s Terms of Service:
“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you.”
Sentences like this are commonplace in terms of service agreements. For example Snapchat has these paragraphs in their terms:
“For all content you submit to the Services other than Public Content, you grant Snap Inc. and our affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, and distribute that content.”
“In addition to granting us the rights mentioned in the previous paragraph, you also grant us a perpetual license to create derivative works from, promote, exhibit, broadcast, syndicate, sublicense, publicly perform, and publicly display Public Content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). To the extent it’s necessary, when you appear in, create, upload, post, or send Public Content, you also grant Snap Inc., our affiliates, and our business partners the unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use your name, likeness, and voice, including in connection with commercial or sponsored content. This means, among other things, that you will not be entitled to any compensation from Snap Inc., our affiliates, or our business partners if your name, likeness, or voice is conveyed through the Services, either on the Snapchat application or on one of our business partner’s platforms.”
The basic concept of allowing these companies to own and use the content you publish through their platforms is standard practice, but something not everyone is aware of. I’m not suggesting that you don’t participate in this viral trend, but in an age where privacy and personal information is becoming an increasingly valuable currency, it’s important to understand what you’re actually giving away and to judge if the fun to be had is worth it. But maybe I’m just mad because they made old man me look like he’s seen, and probably done, some bad things.
My advice, read those boring privacy policies and terms of service before jumping into anything.
Stay safe out there,