FaceApp, TikTok and the rise of 'data nationalism'

FaceApp, TikTok and the rise of ‘data nationalism’

Are FaceApp and TikTok collecting personal information and sending it to Russia and China? My new column in The Drum today investigates:

Gordon Ramsay may have just given an obscure Russian company the right to do whatever they want with his face.

Last week, the mobile application FaceApp released a new feature that allows people to upload headshots of people and turn the subject’s face decades older. The function went viral on social media networks with people cracking jokes about their potential future selves.

But there appears to be a darker side. FaceApp – and some other foreign-made, popular apps such as TikTok – are facing serious safety and security concerns that are also signs of the single, global internet fracturing into a collection of country-specific internets.

FaceApp was released in 2017 and originally allowed users to edit faces in photographs in ways such as adding a smile, subtracting a few years or applying a ‘hotness’ filter.

Later that year, the app added options to apply makeup, put on a ‘hipster’ beard, change genders and – most controversially – see how people would look if they were another race. The app currently has more than 100 million installations in the Google Play store alone.

During last week’s #faceappchallenge, politicians, everyday people and celebrities such as Ramsay posted pictures of older versions of themselves and others.

But there were just two problems: FaceApp’s terms of use and privacy policy.

Read the rest in The Drum.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter and see my marketing speaker page to have me visit your conference or company.