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OPLIN 4Cast #755: This entertaining app is hot right now, but is it safe?

Posted in 4cast, Google Apps, portable apps, and privacy

Remember when fun quizzes came to social media? “Which Disney Princess are you?” “What’s your lord/lady name?” They were cute, they were novel, and then we found out that they were yet more cleverly-disguised ways to get a hold of our personal data.

This past week, a new trend has caught on like wildfire, but this one requires a specific app. Welcome to Voila AI, which takes your selfie and makes it into various cartoon and caricature versions (some of mine are in the graphic this week). When I first saw my friends posting these, I immediately found them fun and charming, and had to download the app and take it for a run. Only after did it occur to me that maybe this wasn’t the brightest thing to have done. It’s certainly a hot topic right now, and it’s stirring up some controversy.

  • What is Voila AI Artist? Plus how to cartoon yourself with it [Pocket Lint] “Voila AI Artist is free to use on iPhone and Android. However, it’s loaded with ads. So, of course, there is a premium ad-free option. Keep in mind, with the free version, you will see lengthy full-screen ads (one or two, usually) after nearly every image upload. The premium tier, Voila Pro, not only removes these ads but also the watermark and even speeds up the rendering process.”
  • Let’s Talk About That Cartoon App And Your Personal Data [2 Oceans Vibe News] “As we learned from the FaceApp uproar, the privacy of your data when using these kinds of viral photo apps can be at risk and could potentially cause some unwelcome consequences.”
  • Everyone you know is a Disney princess, which means AR is queen [TechCrunch] “Voilà AI Artist was only downloaded 400 times globally in March 2021. By May, the app surpassed 1 million downloads, and during the first two weeks of this month alone, the app has been downloaded more than 10.5 million times.”
  • What You Should Know About Voilà, the Latest Viral Selfie App [Wired] “As of right now, there’s no evidence that Voilà specifically is doing any shady data collection or selling, but it’s important to trust the apps you download and use. And even if there is no unethical data harvesting going on, Voilà’s subscription fees are very similar to other apps that often hope users will subscribe once and forget to cancel. Which doesn’t do much to help generate trust.”

From the Ohio Web Library: