A Privacy Tipping Point?

This week I did media interviews from Sydney to New York to Washington to San Diego about the sudden popularity of FaceApp. I’m guessing you’ve already tried it. If not – you upload your photo to the app and choose a filter to either make you younger, older, a different gender or sprout some facial hair. Powered by AI, the app magically spits out a photo of you that can be plain frightening.

FaceApp improved its software this week and celebrities have been posting photos of their future elderly selves. 150 million downloads later, security experts have sounded the alarm about the consequences of uploading your data to an app based in Russia. But here’s the rub: its terms and conditions aren’t really any different to most social media platforms. Why is this concern over cybersecurity very much now in the zeitgeist when we hand over much more personal data to tech giants like Facebook, Amazon and Google every day? Yep, you got it, it’s because The Ruskis are involved. Personally, I’m more worried about Mr Zuckerberg and so is Wired magazine. In any case, it’s clear every big tech database has already been hacked by foreign entities, including the Russians.

While it is kinda weird it took a foreign social app to generate such a media storm, I’m thankful it has. We might just finally be starting to get woke to the compounding effect of copious amounts of personal information being vacuumed up. What is clear is that we always turn a blind eye to the downside of anything when the short-term benefits outweigh the long-term consequence – which is what Big Tech does so well. They know we can’t live without their services on a daily basis.  But when it comes to FaceApp…a few funny photos is all they provided and all of a sudden, we get worried about what we are giving away. Maybe they should also have promised to make the world a more open and connected place?

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