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FaceApp Addresses Privacy Concerns

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  • Social media users are downloading a popular Russian-owned app called FaceApp to alter their photos with features like its aging filer.
  • However, many have raised concerns about the app’s privacy policies and terms of service, accusing the company of collecting user data to sell to third parties or share with Russia.
  • The company released a statement saying it does not do either of those things. 
  • However, other concerns about the app and what it specifically does with user data still exist. 

FaceApp Challenge Goes Viral

FaceApp responded Wednesday to users who expressed concerns about the app’s privacy policy.

FaceApp is a Russian app that uses artificial intelligence to alter photos of people’s faces. The app is two years old, but a recent FaceApp challenge has prompted the app to trend again. Users are posting photos of themselves with an aging filter that adds a few decades of wrinkles to their faces. 

The trend has caught on with celebrities, many of whom have posted their own photos. Drake showed us what promo for his farewell tour might look like.

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Best caption wins ovo tickets

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The Jonas Brothers gave us a glimpse of the year 3000.

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When you take a trip to the Year 3000.

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Scooter Braun showed the damage a Taylor Swift controversy might do to your skin.

Here’s what Lil Nas X might look like after severe back pain stops him from taking his horse down the old town road.

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feeling cute might delete later 😌

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We also got a peek of what Piers Morgan might look like in a month or so.

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I need a break.

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Issues About Privacy Policy Raised

Celebrity photos and jokes aside, there is actually a big controversy surrounding FaceApp and the access it has to information on users’ phones. Many voiced their concerns on Twitter, though much of the fears turned out to be speculation. 

Developer Joshua Nozzi said that he believed the app might be “uploading all your photos.”

Twitter @JoshuaNozzi.

Others brought up the app’s Russian ownership.

Meanwhile, some shared concerns about the vague language in the privacy policy.

These concerns lead users to dig through the app’s privacy policy and terms of service to see what some potential red flags could be. One line in particular in the terms of service has troubled users. 

“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you,” the policy reads. 

This essentially means that the app can take your photos and use them on their own. Many say that this could mean content could get used for marketing purposes. 

Another line in the privacy policy implies that the app can look at a user’s browser history.

“We use third-party analytics tools to help us measure traffic and usage trends for the Service,” the policy states. “These tools collect information sent by your device or our Service, including the web pages you visit, add-ons, and other information that assists us in improving the Service.”

The policy also says that while it will not sell your data to third parties, it can “share certain information such as cookie data with third-party advertising partners.”

FaceApp Addresses Concerns

FaceApp gave a statement to TechCrunch on Wednesday about some of the app’s policies to clarify some of the rumors spreading online.

FaceApp said that photos are processed in the cloud, but it debunked Nozzi’s theory that it was downloading all photos from your camera roll.

“FaceApp performs most of the photo processing in the cloud,” their statement reads. “We only upload a photo selected by a user for editing. We never transfer any other images from the phone to the cloud.”

At the bottom of the statement, they linked to Nozzi’s tweet, which has now been deleted, specifically to drive their point home.

“We don’t do that. We upload only a photo selected for editing. You can quickly check this with any of network sniffing tools available on the internet.”

The statement went on to say: “We might store an uploaded photo in the cloud. The main reason for that is performance and traffic: we want to make sure that the user doesn’t upload the photo repeatedly for every edit operation. Most images are deleted from our servers within 48 hours from the upload date.”

The statement said that the company accepts requests from users to remove all their data from its servers. They also added that the app’s features are available without logging in and said that 99% of users don’t log in, meaning that in most cases, they don’t have access to any data that could identify a person.

In its final points, the company confirmed that it does not sell data to third parties, and does not transfer information to Russia. 

Doubts Remain

Many don’t think the statement answered enough questions. For example, it did not address the app’s right to use your data, which is mentioned in the terms of service, or other marketing concerns. 

However, outlets like the Independent have noted that this is “fairly standard within such apps.”

Concerns about the app’s vague privacy policy also still exist. Many have noted that the policy has not been updated since the app came out in 2017.  FaceApp’s statement still did not fully say what the app can actually do with photos uploaded to it. 

Back in 2017, the chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, David Vaile, spoke to the Australia Broadcasting Company about this lack of transparency.

“They ask for way more rights than they need to offer the service to you,” Vaile said. “It is impossible to tell from this what happens when you upload it, that is the problem. The licence is so lax.”

See what others are saying: (The Independent) (Mashable) (Tech Crunch)

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“The Rock” Surpasses Kylie Jenner as Highest-Paid Star on Instagram

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  • After coming in at No. 6 last year, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has now skyrocketed to the top of Hopper HQ’s Instagram Rich List, with it estimating that he earns $1,015,00 per sponsored post.
  • Kylie Jenner, who he dethroned, now sits at No. 2, charging $986,000 per post.
  • Kim Kardashian West ranked No. 4 with $858,000, just a day after it was revealed that she sold 20% of KKW Beauty to Coty Inc. The deal values KKW Beauty at $1 billion and makes her net worth around $900 million.
  • TikTok stars Charlie D’Amelio and Addison Rae also captured attention for making it into the top 10 highest paid per post in the Lifestyle category, after rising to fame in under a year. 

Instagram’s Highest-Paid Users Revealed 

Kylie Jenner was officially dethroned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the highest-paid person on Instagram, according to Hopper HQ’s fourth annual “Instagram Rich List.” 

Hopper HQ, the social media planning tool behind the list, announced its new rankings Tuesday, which estimates how much high profile figures charge per sponsored post. According to the company, it uses “publically and privately available data to create the most accurate list possible.”

Last year, Jenner topped the company’s list, with it estimating that she earned $1,266,000 per sponsored post. At the time, Johnson took the No. 6 spot, raking in about $882,000 for each of his.

Since then, Johnson’s Instagram earning have jumped by 15%, helping him snatch the No. 1 slot with an estimated $1,015,00 per sponsored post. Jenner on the other hand, dropped by 22%, earning her the No. 2 title with $986,000 each.   

Jenner’s new ranking comes just a month after Forbes stripped her of her billionaire title when it accused her of exaggerating her cosmetic company’s earning. At the time, Jenner called the claims “inaccurate” and “unproven,” while her representatives said that neither she nor anyone from her team falsified tax returns or lied to claim the title. 

But even without the billionaire status, Jenner is still insanely wealthy. Forbes estimated her net worth at $900 million and just a few days after publishing its exposé, it ranked her as the highest-paid celebrity with an estimated $590 million in earnings over the last year. 

As far as the “Instagram Rich List” goes, celebrities that follow Jenner include Cristiano Ronaldo, Kim Kardashian West, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Beyonce Knowles, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift, to name a few.

Is Kim Kardashian a Billionaire? 

Kardashian West is another standout with her No. 4 ranking, charging an estimated $858,000 per post. That’s because the ranking comes just a day after reports that she sold a stake in her cosmetic brand, KKW Beauty, to Coty Inc for $200 million.

Last year, her youngest sister made headlines for striking a huge deal with the beauty brand, selling 51% of Kylie Cosmetics for $600 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.2 billion. 

But Kardashian West’s deal is a bit different. She only sold off a 20% stake in her business, leaving her with 72% and her mother, Kris Jenner, with 8%. According to Coty, she will remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Following the news, Kanye West congratulated his wife for “officially becoming a billionaire” with a bizarre photo of what appeared to be vegetables and flowers. 

However, as Forbes pointed out, this deal actually makes her net worth about $900 million and values KKW Beauty at $1 billion. 

Other Standouts on the 2020 Instagram Rich List 

Aside from “The Rock” and the Kardashian-Jenner rankings, there were some other notable standouts on Hopper HQ’s list.

In the beauty category, Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty made the top of the list with an estimated $91,800 per post. Far behind at No. 2 and 3 were beauty influencers James Charles and Jeffree Star, who charge an estimated $38,400 and $32,700 per sponsored post, respectively. 

In fashion, model Bella Hadid ranked No.1 with an estimated $91,900 per post, with Emily Ratajkowski following at No. 2 with $78,300. 

In sports, Cristiano Ronaldo maintained his top spot with $889,000 per paid post, followed by other huge names in soccer like Neymar Jr., Lionel Messi, and David Beckham. NBA star Lebron James ranked No. 5 with an estimated $307,000 for each of his.

But perhaps some of the most interesting numbers came from the Lifestyle category, which gave insight into the potential earnings of some popular influencers. 

Lele Pons ended up at the top of the list with an estimated $142,80 per sponsored post. She was followed by Sommer Ray, Zach King, and Cameron Dallas.

Others who made the top ten that probably won’t come as a surprise are longtime YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, also known as Pewdiepie, who came in at No. 5 with $72,500 and Viner turned YouTuber David Dobrik who ranked No. 7 with an estimated $69,900 per sponsored post. 

But some newcomers to the digital space that broke the top ten in this category are TikTokers 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio and 19-year-old Addison Rae Easterling. D’Amelio actually ranked above Dobrik at No. 6 with an estimated $71,200 per post. Easterling ranked just below him at No. 8 with $69,600 each. 

The Paul brothers then finish up the top ten with Logan at No. 9 and Jake at No. 10. However, the success of the two TikTok stars is arguably the most impressive considering how quickly they’ve exploded to popularity and expanded onto other sites. 

Easterling, for instance, only joined TikTok in July 2019 and is the second most followed person on the app with 48.2 million followers. Meanwhile, D’Amilio is the most followed person on the app with 66.9 million followers, and she joined in June of 2019.

See what others are saying: (Forbes) (LAD Bible) (Yahoo Lifestyle)

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Cristiano Ronaldo’s name.

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Breaking Down Shane Dawson’s History of Offensive and Inappropriate Content

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  • YouTuber Shane Dawson is facing backlash for racist and offensive jokes he has made throughout his career, including instances where he used black or brownface and said the n-word.
  • Many also took issue with his jokes about pedophilia, including one where he pretends to masturbate in front of a poster of 11-year-old Willow Smith and another where he appears to joke that pedophilia is a fetish.
  • Over the past few years, he has apologized for some of these instances and for doing blackface, but in a recent video Friday, he acknowledged that this was not enough, and apologized once more.
  • He is still facing other heat from the beauty community, as some fans think he used the industry for a profit, only to later slander the people in it.

Shane’s Past Racist and Inappropriate Jokes

Over the past several days, controversies surrounding YouTuber Shane Dawson have spread across the Internet, prompting Dawson to issue an apology. But with so much being thrown around, what exactly are people accusing him of?

Well, many are bringing up racist and inappropriate jokes he has made in his past. In several instances, internet users brought up footage of him doing black and brownface or using the n-word. In 2014, Dawson apologized for using blackface, claiming he did not know what it meant. 

“I made a mistake. And I should not have done it,” he said. “I should not have put makeup on my face to make myself look Black it was stupid.” 

Others brought up footage of him saying predatory things about children. One clip shows him asking a young fan to twerk for him during a webchat with him and his mother.

In soundbites from a 2013 podcast, he can be heard making jokes about pedophilia. 

“People have foot fetishes, people have fetishes about everything. Fine. Everybody do your thing. So why is it that when somebody looks at, googles, naked baby on google and jerks off to it, they can get arrested?” he asked after calling a six-year-old “sexy.”.

“Here’s the worst part of it, I actually went to google like, I want to see, I just wanted to see, let me pretend like I’m a pedophile for a sec,” he added. “So I typed in naked baby, first of all they were sexy.” 

However, back in 2018, he said those jokes were taken out of context and that he was actually saying pedophilia was disgusting. He also posted a YouTube video at the time that showed the unedited footage, where he does say that he does not “understand why anybody would be turned on by that.”

“I’m sorry that I used to make really shitty fucking jokes,” he said, adding that he made them for shock value and to get a rise out of his co-host.  

But more clips continued to resurface, including one were he is showing photos of his young fans in his merchandise, saying he would rape them. In another, he pretends to masturbate to a poster of Willow Smith, who was 11-years-old at the time. 

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Many also brought up clips of Dawson interacting with his tween cousin where he makes sexual jokes and asks her inappropriate questions.

Outrage at Shane’s Depiction of Beauty Community

Dawson’s Friday video addressed many of these clips, which he said he is sorry for. However, these off-color jokes are not the only reason he is in the hot seat right now. Many in the beauty community have slammed him for seemingly using the industry to make a profit.

Dawson recently made a statement announcing his exit from the beauty community. In that statement, he painted the community as a toxic bunch who live for drama, while standing by his friend and collaborator Jeffree Star, who many believe is perhaps one of the most toxic and dramatic beauty YouTubers.

Dawson has made two docuseries about Star. In the most recent one, the two collaborated on a palette together, which was restocked prior to him announcing his departure from this industry. Because of this, people thought Dawson was taking his money and running, all while insulting the beauty community, which he briefly infiltrated. 

YouTuber Samantha Ravndahl tweeted that if he thinks the whole community is toxic, he is “watching the wrong people.”

“Let’s just be clear, you didn’t do a beauty series. You highlighted the literal one person that has continually been the most toxic, harmful, racist, misogynistic, threatening individual in the community,” Ravndahl added in a video addressing Dawson.

She also explained that while many see the beauty industry as female-dominated, the higher ups, CEOs and top earners are often male, cis-gendered, white or white passing. This means that men tend to benefit from the community the most, but when the industry faces backlash, women are often the ones with a sullied reputation. 

Ravndahl then explained that she believes Dawson, along with Star, have benefited from being males in the beauty community. 

“I really suggest that you question whether or not you would be okay with the things that they say, that the things that they do, with the things that they have done in the past. If you’d be okay with those exact same things if they happened with a female influencer,” she said. “And I just, if you’re being honest with yourself, I highly doubt that the answer is yes, that you would be ok with it.” 

In the past, female influencers like Laura Lee faced immediate consequences for their indiscretions. Old racist tweets cost Lee brand partnerships and big deals. Fans note that Star and Dawson both have countless old videos and content with racist behavior, but have not seen harsh punishment for it. 

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (Seventeen) (People)

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Skincare Influencer Susan Yara Apologizes for Misleading Fans By Promoting Brand She Secretly Owned

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  • Susan Yara, the influencer behind Mixed Makeup, is facing intense scrutiny online after announcing her new skincare line, Naturium.
  • Fans are outraged because products have been on sale since February, and Yara promoted it for months without ever disclosing she was the owner, a violation of Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
  • In fact, Yara offered coupon codes and told fans she learned of the brand after receiving it in PR, only adding disclosures on old posts after backlash over her announcement poured in.
  • Yara has apologized for misleading fans, explaining that she did so to earn unbiased feedback from friends and customers. Still, many have promised to submit complaints to the FTC.

Naturium’s Launch

Skincare influencer Susan Yara is facing serious backlash after revealing that she was secretly the owner of a new product line that she’s been publicly promoting for months.

On June 21, Yara, who owns the Mixed Makeup YouTube channel, released a video announcing the line, Naturium. For many in the industry, this would be a big milestone, however, the news has been met with a ton of outage.

That’s because Naturium products have actually been available for purchase since February and Sunday’s announcement only revealed that Yara was Naturium’s owner.

While many customers have been loving the products, her followers took issue with the fact that she promoted them without disclosing her ties to the company.

As far as why she kept her ties to Naturium quiet, she said in her announcement video, “it was really important to me to get honest and true feedback from everyone. And I, you know, took a step back and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to get that if I just announce this is my skincare line from the get-go.’”

She also said she delayed revealing it was her brand because of the cultural climate following the world-wide outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conflicts of Interest

The conflict of interest caused fans to question her integrity as they reflected on how she had misled them.

Fans said Yara made it seem like the brand was an independent company that approached her for a sponsorship deal. Screenshots from as far back as April were shared, showing Yara writing to the Mixed Makeup Facebook group, “Fan of The Ordinary? I have found a better brand called Naturium… I just want you guys  to use better products. Don’t fight me! Haha.”

Screenshot taken on June 21st of Susan Yara’s Beauty Questions Answered by MIXED MAKEUP Facebook Group.

When one person asked her, “how did you find them?” Yara replied, “They sent me a PR mailer when they launched! It’s really good!”

In another exchange about a pending review of the brand, Yara wrote, “Been working on so many brand reviews, this one might be at the bottom of the list. I can say I like everything I’ve tried so far though.”

On her Mixed Makeup YouTube channel, she also promoted the brand with videos like, “4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend.” That video’s thumbnail even displays Naturium as the only featured product. Beyond that, there are other videos that feature Naturium as a reviewed product.

A screenshot taken of “4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I Recommend” – Taken June 24, 2020.

Because of all this, fans were upset at her lack of transparency, flooding Yara’s social media with angry comments. One comment under Sunday’s “announcement” video, for example, reads: “Wow… you clearly don’t respect your viewers or your customers. Shame on you for lying. I would have been so excited to try this skincare line if it hadn’t been completely tainted by your manipulation and deceit. How disappointing.”

Screenshot of a comment from Introducing Naturium: My New Skincare Brand! – Taken June 24, 2020

Aside from leaving a bad taste in her fans’ mouths, many say this brand-strategy may end up backfiring because it now could be a case for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Since 2017, the agency has kept a sharp eye out for social media influencers who don’t properly disclose when a post is paid content, or when someone owns a brand they are promoting. One case, in particular, that is reminiscent of Yara’s situation is CS:GO Lotto.

The owners of CS:GO Lotto essentially did what Yara just did. They owned a business and promoted it while pretending they stumbled across it and had no relation to the brand. That’s illegal according to the FTC ACT. and the owners of that CS:GO Lotto eventually settled with the agency in 2017.

Since then, the FTC has issued clear advertising guidelines for content creators. Such guidelines include points like, “Clearly DISCLOSE when you have a financial or family relationship with a brand.” or “Ensure your sponsorship disclosure is HARD TO MISS,” among others.

The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media Influencers
FTC Influencer Guidelines. Via the Federal Trade Commission

At first glace, it doesn’t seem that Yara properly followed these guidelines, and in response, fans have allegedly been sending the FTC complaints.

Backtracking

After receiving backlash, Yara seems to have been trying to do some damage control by responding to comments on Instagram and apologizing for deceiving fans.

She also, according to Beauty Independent, released a statement saying, “I validated my true love for my brand as a reason to post. My intent was never to deceive my followers… In hindsight I should have waited to promote anything from the line until we were ready to announce my involvement.”

“I realize some of my viewers are disappointed in my strategy and I believe their feelings are justified,” she continued. “This has been an incredibly valuable lesson for me and my team. I’m very sorry if anyone felt I was manipulative, but I can assure you my intentions were good. I know that doesn’t make the situation better, so I apologize whole-heartedly.’

Beyond just apologizing to fans, Yara has gone back to every video on her channel that featured Naturium and added a disclaimer to the bottom of each description box.

“DISCLAIMER: I am a co-founder of NATURIUM and this description may contain affiliate links for a small commission on purchased products,” it reads. “Affiliate links support our channel, so we can continue to make fun videos for you. Thanks for watching and shopping!”

Screenshot of video description from 4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend – Taken June 24, 2020

However, while parts of Yara’s disclaimer existed before Sunday, the addition of “I am a co-founder of NATURIUM” was only added after Sunday’s backlash. Even with this edition, the post doesn’t comply with the FTC’s guidelines.

Part of the guidelines dictate that posts, “Don’t rely on disclosures that people will see only if they click “more,” but in order to properly see this disclaimer, a user would need to do just that.

Screen of video description froAffordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend – Taken June 24, 2020

Currently, there is no word on whether or not the FTC will take action, but it does, Yara could be liable for upwards of $40,000 per infringing post.

Others Dragged In

For a lot of fans, there’s still another issue with this entire ordeal: whether or not other influencers who reviewed the products knew about Yara’s involvement.

This list included people featured in the announcement video like Hyram, James Welsh,  Liah Yoo, and the channel Beauty Within. Yet, based on Yara’s announcement video, no one else knew it was her brand.

In an Instagram story Yara published Monday, she tried to shut down this claim, writing, “Hi everyone. I have seen the comments come through today and I’m very sorry I upset you… I can assure you no one knew about my involvement with NATURUM when they posted about the brand.”

Screenshot of @susanyara – Susan Yara’s Instagram Live Story – Taken June 23, 2020

Yara also added, “It was insinuated in a live today content creators knew more and that is completely false information.” Many fans thought this was a reference to Caroline Hirons, another skincare expert on the platform who hosted an hour-log Instagram live stream also on Monday. However, at no point in that stream did Hirons hint that anyone else knew.

She also added that she would be releasing a video on the topic “soon,” but as of June 24, no such video has been released.

A previous version of this story stated that Caroline Hirons insinuated in an hour-long live stream that other creators knew Susan Yara owned Nutrium. That is not the case, and this article has been updated to reflect that.

See What Others Are Saying: (Beauty Independent) (Daily Dot)

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