Warning over Facebook New Profile Pic app that has worrying links to Russia
Social media users have been enjoying a new artificial intelligence-driven app that turns their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures into flattering cartoons.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been using the app, called New Profile Pic, to update the way they appear online.
But what most herders may not have been aware, up until now, is that the app was created in Moscow, not much more than a stone’s throw from the building where Putin’s henchmen are directing the war against Ukraine.
Concerns have been used that the application could have been used by unscrupulous Russian hackers to mine their data and build a database of high-resolution faces.
One user shared a screenshot of the requested app permissions and wrote: “DO NOT download the NEW PROFILE PIC.COM APP it takes all your information and sends it to Moscow!!!!!!!”
Jake Moore, Global Cybersecurity Advisor, ESET Internet Security told the Daily Mail: "This app is likely a way of capturing people's faces in high resolution”.
The company behind the app, Linerock, is registered at an address in Moscow close to Russia’s Ministry of Defence, some three miles from Red Square.
The company's data policy states 'we collect certain personal information that you voluntarily provide to us'.
It adds: "We collect your name, email address, user name, social network information and other information you provide when you register."
Russian cyber attack on Ukraine could quickly spread worldwide, experts warn
Mr Moore said: ”I would question any app wanting this amount of data, especially one which is largely unheard of and based in another country."
They added that users’ photos are stored in the Amazon cloud, and deleted within two weeks of being uploaded.
A company spokesperson told hoax-busting website Snopes: “It is true that the domain was registered to the Moscow address. It is the former Moscow address of the founder of the company.
“He does not live in the Russian Federation at the moment. By now the address has been changed in order to avoid any confusion”.
The spokesperson added that Apple and Google’s app stores are packed with similarly-named apps, some of which feature subscriptions or in-app purchases. It’s possible, the spokesperson suggested, that users may have used one of these look-a-like apps by mistake.
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