FaceApp under fire as lawmakers ask FBI to review viral app

A popular photo app that transforms people’s faces to look older could soon be under review by the FBI after privacy concerns were raised over practices by the Russian company operating it.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., requested in a letter that FBI Director Christopher Wray direct resources to look into the privacy policy of FaceApp, which uses “artificial intelligence to alter a user’s photos to look younger or older, or possess a different gender.”

People on social media flooded their feeds with the images morphing their selfies into an older version of themselves, causing the app to go viral.

“However, in order to operate the application, users must provide full and irrevocable access to their personal photos and data,” Sen. Schumer explained.

The top Senate Democrat notes that the agreement means users allow FaceApp to use any content shared with the app, including their real name or username without notifying them.

“… it is unclear how long FaceApp retains a user’s data or how a user may ensure their data is deleted after usage.”

- Sen. Schumer, D-N.Y., in his letter to FBI Director Wray

Security experts warn the Russia-based firm Wireless Lab’s open-ended policy could pose a larger risk to users over time.

FaceApp security concerns arise as Russian-owned face-aging app goes viral

While no evidence has surfaced that FaceApp is misusing photos or other data, experts said the public should exercise caution when using the service.

The terms of service state the company is allowed “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-license” to use photos uploaded to the app from the user.


The issue has since garnered bipartisan concern, as Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., warned listeners on a radio show Thursday to "be very discriminating in the way you download apps."

"Delete, if you have apps on your phone that you don’t use, delete them all. There’s no reason to keep them there. Each one of those is a potential door into your phone, and therefore to all of your private data, and to take steps to try to verify the origin of every app that you download onto your phone or your tablet or your computer."

FOX Business' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.