After some allegations people are trying to learn if the New Profile Pictures app scam or safe. In May 2022, a new profile photo app, known as “NewProfilePic: Profile Picture” in the Apple Store and in the Google Play Store, reached the top of the mobile charts with hundreds of thousands of downloads.
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People were excited about it, and when they published photos from the new program, a piece of mobile software that uses AI to generate purported “painterly” profile images sparked widespread concern. People began warning each other about this New Profile Pictures app being some sort of Russian malware scam after messages spreading the news about it started circulating on social media.
New Profile Pic app: Scam or safe?
The permissions listed in the screenshot aren’t that uncommon when compared to other popular mobile applications. When we compared the contents of this image with those of other top apps, such as TikTok, WhatsApp, and Instagram, we discovered that requesting users’ permission to “receive data from the internet” and “have full network access” isn’t unusual. When people download the apps provided by these businesses, they should be aware that they are giving them this much access. New Profile Pictures app’s permissions, on the other hand, are not out of line.
Is New Profile Pictures app based in Russia?
According to the listings in Google’s and Apple’s app stores, a mobile development firm called Informe Laboratories, Inc. and Linerock Investments Ltd. are responsible for the new Profile Pic. These businesses are also responsible for the hit apps “Photo Lab Picture Editor & Art” and “ToonMe – cartoons from photos,” which have hundreds of thousands of downloads between them.
On both Google’s and Apple’s app store, the developer’s location is listed as being Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
The allegation that this software was linked to Russia or the Kremlin was based on pictures that purported to show how newprofilepic.com had been registered in Moscow.
When we researched this domain on May 11, our findings indicated that it was registered in Florida. We contacted Linerock Investments for additional information and a representative informed us that, previously, the domain had been registered in Moscow since the company’s founder had resided there. However, the spokesperson stated that the individual had relocated, thus the firm changed the domain registration address to avoid any confusion.
The spokesperson said via email:
“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.”
This New Profile Pictures app comes from a company in the British Virgin Islands that uses an international team of developers, some of whom reside in Russia. The spokesperson said:
“We are a BVI company. Our app is being developed by an international team with development offices in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.”
The article in The Daily Mail claims that this software was created by a firm “three miles from Red Square,” implying a link to the Kremlin. When we inquired about this allegation made by The Daily Mail, the Linerock responded that the media outlet was describing a Moscow address of attorneys who had formed the firm, not the company itself. The spokesperson said:
“The address on Moscow River is the address of lawyers who registered the company. We have never had an office there.”
A blog post on Linerock’s website pho.to detailed a longer response to the rumors. New Profile Pictures app explained that they use Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, two servers located in the U.S., and that no user images or data are sent to Moscow:
However, there’s a flip side to the app’s popularity. The UK’s Daily Mail posted an article today alleging that NewProfilePic is likely to ‘hoover up your data and send it to Moscow’ – all because the app ‘has been developed by a tech company based in Moscow’.
“Again, we can’t help remembering the lookalike ‘Bangladesh story’. All we can do is explain patiently that all our apps (including NewProfilePic) are NOT a threat. We are a BVI company with development offices in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Nevertheless, your photos (or any other data) are NOT sent to Moscow. All our apps are server-based and user images are uploaded to Amazon AWS / Microsoft Azure servers located in the US. This is necessary in order to apply all those fancy effects driven by AI technologies.”
Is New Profile Pictures app stealing money?
Another popular social media rumor claimed that people had money taken out of their bank accounts shortly after downloading this app. This is one example:
We’ve been unable to confirm or refute the allegation. Furthermore, many elements of such claims are left unknown. (Was it for a subscription? Was the money refunded? Did the person provide credit card information to the app?)
According to the New Profile Pictures app, while the images showing charges appear to be true, they weren’t sent from the New Profile Pic App because it’s “completely free and does not contain in-app purchases, so it does not need users’ payment information. We reached out to Google, Apple, and the user who posted the above-displayed message, and we will update this article if more information becomes available.
New Profile Pictures app told that the app stores are clogged with other apps with similar names, some of which include subscriptions or in-app purchases. Perhaps users have made a mistake and used one of these look-a-like apps, the spokesperson suggested.
“People look for the app in the app store using search engines. Since all of our postings on social media include our #NewProfilePic branding, folks use app store search to locate it. You’ll notice that other applications with similar names appear in the results. And some of them have in-app purchases. It is misleading and some users download several apps to get the effect and in some they may activate the trial via the paywall. They simply remove the app afterwards (which does not stop the subscription) and get charged after the trial is over. So currently the charges are not triggered by our apps, but by the competitors.”
Is the New Profile Pic app safe to use?
In sum, the claim that this app is unusually invasive is untrue, so more than likely the New Profile Pic app safe to use. Its requested app permissions are similar to other mainstream apps. The assertion that this software is collecting data for the Russian government has no basis in fact. This program was created by a firm in the British Virgin Islands that employs a team of foreign developers, some of whom reside in Russia. Lastly, the claim that users of New Profile Pictures app had money taken out of their bank accounts is, so far, unsubstantiated.
It is also worth reiterating that this app didn’t come from a new company, and New Profile Pic app isn’t their first application. ToonMe and PhotoLab, two of the developer’s other apps, have more than 150 million installs on Google Play. Both of those apps have been around for years, and we are unaware of any reports that they have been used to steal money from people’s bank accounts, or to give users’ data to the Kremlin.
A spokesperson for the app told us:
“The NewProfilePic app does not store users’ accounts or any personal data. …This app is safe for people to use it.”
Check out our Social DM review and learn if is it a scam. By the way YouTube creators beware: Don’t fall for this Opera GX partnership proposal scam