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AI photo editor FaceApp goes viral again on iOS, raises questions about photo library access

FaceApp. So. The app has gone viral again after first doing so two years ago or so. The effect has gotten better but these apps, like many other one off viral apps, tend to come and go in waves driven by influencer networks or paid promotion. We first covered this particular AI photo editor  from a team of Russian developers about two years ago.
It has gone viral again now due to some features that allow you to edit a person’s face to make it appear older or younger. You may remember at one point it had an issue because it enabled what amounted to digital blackface by changing a person from one ethnicity to another.
In this current wave of virality, some new questions are floating about FaceApp. The first is whether it uploads your camera roll in the background. We found no evidence of this and neither did security researcher and Guardian App CEO Will Strafach or researcher Baptiste Robert.
The second is how it allows you to pick photos without giving photo access to the app. You can see a video of this behavior here:


Shouldn’t photo access need to be enabled for this to be possible ? ? pic.twitter.com/wy45zKn63E
— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) July 16, 2019
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