FaceApp trumps Mandela Day on Google Search this week

FaceApp ageing feature
A new feature from FaceApp uses AI to simulate the ageing process. Image supplied by FaceApp

Face aging fad rules the web

South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, 17 July 2019, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”, Google has revealed.

The Internet went crazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades.

FaceApp went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Some the traffic may also have been due to the controversy surrounding the app and its Russia-based developers Wireless Lab.

Privacy experts warned that the app may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate.

It’s not the first time the app has come in for criticism. Launched in early 2017, it was almost immediately in hot water over its “ethnicity filters” and, later, the “hot” transformation trick that was said to lighten skin colour. Both features have since been removed.

Farewell White Zulu

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid.

Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing.

Batchelor, whose first name is actually spelled “Marc”, played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana.

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture.

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of the Muvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that claimed the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. – GeekWire.co.za