If you’ve spent any time on Facebook in the past week, you’ve probably seen lots of friends posting new profile pictures that look like cartoons. They use a new app called “NewProfilePic” which was released in April.
The photos look pretty cool, and it’s tempting for everyone to jump on the bandwagon to post their own new profile pictures.
But along with these new photos, other friends post that the app is dangerous and shares personal information with Russia.
These warnings are pretty compelling and after the Russian malware warnings that have been circulating for the past few months, the idea that an app could trick us Americans into sharing information with Putin and his government is 100% credible. %.
Several viewers asked if it was okay to use the app. I spent most of the day researching the app and the developer behind it.
Here is what I discovered:
The application is from a company called Informe Laboratories Inc and is copyrighted by “Linerock LTD”. The company is not located in Russia, but it has investors and developers based there. Linerock LTD is also behind at least 50 other photo editing apps, including “Toonface” which went viral a few years ago.
On its blog, the company insists that it does not share any information with Russia or any other government, but uses that information to sell ads.
NewProfilePic also states that photos shared with the app are deleted within 2 days of upload.
The warnings come from an article in the British tabloid The Daily Mail which cites ‘cybersecurity experts’ but offers no evidence of data being shared with Russia and no evidence that users are losing money to the app without permission.
Once the Daily Mail published its story, other online news outlets picked up the story and published it themselves. Like the app, these articles have gone viral on Facebook and Twitter.
How does “NewProfilePic” make its money? Through advertisements displayed on the app when users create new profile pictures. Another income comes from subscriptions. While signing up for the app, users are encouraged to sign up for a free premium trial which renews after 2 days for $30. Users who do not cancel within this time are charged via Apple Pay or
From what I’ve found, the NewProfilePic app is no different than any other app that turns your photos into Disney characters, cartoons, or what celebrity you look like. All of these apps collect basic information as well as biometric data when you upload a photo.
So is it safe to use? I’ll put it this way: if you’ve uploaded a photo or signed up to use another free app in the past, that app won’t collect more of your data than you’ve already shared. It’s a fun app and you probably don’t have to worry about it unless you’re worried about all the other online services you sign up for.