Maria Diaz heard the buzz about FaceApp, but she was in no hurry to see what she would look like as an elderly woman.
Partly, it’s because Diaz, a senior at Missouri Western State University, isn’t enamored with gray hair and wrinkles. But mostly, she was cautious because of privacy concerns surrounding the phone app that went viral this summer.
“I did not want to risk being subject to an invasion of privacy,” said Diaz, a biology major. “It’s your information. No one should have access to it, if you did not explicitly give it.”
FaceApp uses artificial intelligence to create an aging effect on a user’s photo. For those who download the app, it answers the question, “what will I look like when I’m older?” Now, some who use the app are asking a different question: “Who owns my face?”
“People should be concerned,” said Burton Kelso, a technology consultant in Kansas City. “Any app you download, you are agreeing to let that app have access to your phone.”
By downloading FaceApp, a user agrees to grant “perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide” use, not only for a single photo, but for what the developer calls any other “user content and associated information.”
Kelso said that means everything on your phone: search history, contacts, saved photos and video.
“They are actively scanning your device,” he said.
Apps and websites have been requiring these types of “end user license agreements” and sharing information for years, a reality that hit home with the disclosure that Cambridge Analytica harvested personal information from millions of Facebook users. FaceApp drew heavy scrutiny because it happens to be owned by a parent company, called Wireless Lab, that’s based in Russia.
Some in Congress, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have called for a federal investigation.
“This should raise alarm bells for all Americans,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor. “The potential for our facial data and the data from all of our friends and family contained in our photos to fall into the hands of something like Russian intelligence or the Russian military is really troubling.”
Is that a realistic concern? FaceApp, in a statement, said most photos are deleted within 48 hours. MIT’s Technology Review magazine said photos stored on FaceApp servers are most likely to be used to further refine the company’s facial recognition algorithm. The magazine didn’t rule out more futuristic uses, like an intelligence agency’s creation of “deep-fake” profiles of people who don’t exist.
For now, the U.S. military is concerned enough to issue a warning, but not an outright ban, for personnel in the armed forces.
“As with all social media activity, we encourage all service members and their families to use caution when downloading and using social media applications on their personal devices,” officials with U.S. European Command said in a statement.
That’s good advice for anyone, said Tim Conard, president of TS Conard Technology Solutions in St. Joseph. He said people have been sharing photos for years on multiple platforms — Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram. They can always say no.
For the record, Conard used the aging app and isn’t worried about what happens with his image. He also said it’s not unusual to use software developed in Russia, China, Taiwan and other countries.
“It is not a new phenomenon,” he said. “It is something you choose. You make the decision. Once their images are released into cyberspace, there’s really no getting them back. If you don’t want to have that kind of exposure, then you simply don’t engage with the application.”
Kelso said it’s a good reminder that a free app is never truly free. The user pays with personal information that’s sometimes sold to third parties.
“They’ve got to find a way to make a profit,” he said.
Colleagues and friends remembered Bob Heater Saturday as a reporter who knew St. Joseph and served as a cheerleader for his news comrades.
Heater, the senior anchor for the News-Press NOW stable of television stations, died Saturday at age 63.
David Bradley, St. Joseph News-Press CEO, expressed the company’s deep sadness at the death.
“He felt and knew the heartbeat of the community, which was seen through his reporting,” Bradley said. “His informal, often cheerful style made viewers believe in the news he announced. His credibility was beyond reproach.”
Heater’s television career came after he established himself as one of the most familiar voices in St. Joseph, working in local radio for 26 years.
Jackie Heater, his wife of 26 years, said Saturday evening that she became accustomed to sharing her husband with the community.
On Friday night, she said, they had gone to a local restaurant after Heater had broadcast the news from the Red Rally in Downtown St. Joseph.
“As we walked in, there was a table of two older couples sitting there, and I heard one of them as we passed say, ‘That’s Bob Heater.’ That was kind of our life,” she said.
Such encounters happened often, Mrs. Heater said, as people identified with a man with whom they felt a kinship, if only through the television.
“It could be the 16-year-old kid that was waiting on our table to the 75-year-old grandma that would come up to him and say, ‘Hey, you’re the guy on the news,’” she said. “It was such a broad demographic.”
He accepted a job as a News-Press NOW anchor in 2007, part of a founding crew of television workers in the evolving news operation.
A colleague from those early television days, and a friend before that, Julie Love said Heater proved a good teacher in the broadcasting arts.
“As a mentor, he gave me a piece of advice that I use with my students now,” said Love, an assistant professor now in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department at Benedictine College. “When you’re sitting at the desk talking, you’re just talking to someone across the kitchen table. That’s the kind of guy he was.”
As co-anchors, she said their chemistry clicked because of their friendship. And she quality-checked her work by asking Heater what his mother, Opal, thought of her on-air delivery.
“He loved his mom so much, and I always asked to make sure that Opal could understand what I was saying,” Love said. “If Opal could hear my words, I knew I was talking clearly enough.”
Heater’s father, also named Robert, died in 1970, when Bob was a teenager. The couple’s only child, Bob, remained close to his mother until her death in 2014.
Greg Miller, now an anchor and reporter for KAKE News in Wichita, worked alongside Heater for four years and remembered him as being a cheerleader for all his colleagues.
“He was positive, supportive, funny,” he said. “Every time you had a good story, he’d send you a text or he’d tell you afterwards. He wanted everyone to do well.”
From a professional standpoint, Miller said his first impression of Heater came from his booming voice, one honed during a radio career that began at KKJO while a senior at Benton High School.
He adopted the persona of Dave Knight, a deejay spinning Top 40 records.
“After you got to know him and work with him, you realize he was a down-to-earth person,” Miller said. “He believed in news, he believed in presentation, he believed in storytelling. And he genuinely liked watching people grow.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
More than 8,000 Chiefs fans gathered at Spratt stadium Saturday afternoon for the first day of the 2019 Chiefs training camp.
Fans flocked from all over to see their favorite players as the Chiefs entered their tenth year of training camp in St. Joseph.
Gianna Antovoni traveled from Dallas to her first training camp and said she was excited to see the team come together.
“I love Patrick Mahomes and Kelce. The team — they really push through adversity. It’s really cool to see how they do that, and that’s why I love them,” said Antovoni on the team.
Liliana Gonzalez has been coming to the camp for five years from Wichita, Kansas.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing all of the players and playing on all the bouncy houses,” said Gonzalez.
Fans eagerly brought their new NFL footballs and jerseys in hopes of getting them autographed at the camp.
“I’m really excited this year, because I want to get my ball and my Chiefs gear signed,” said Aiden Brown from Olathe, Kansas. It was also his first time attending the camp.
Jeff Lowe, from Gardner, Kansas, said that he came back to the camp a second year because he loves the atmosphere it offers.
“It’s just really neat to see everyone as a family come in from all over and celebrate what the Chiefs have brought here. It’s just a really neat thing,” said Lowe.
The 2019 Chiefs Training Camp is open to the public until August 15th. For more information and a full camp schedule you can visit online at www.chiefs.com.
The sound of basketball bouncing and youthful laughter has been replaced by a solemn stillness since the North Town Community Center at Cherry and Main streets closed in 2017.
When Garold Frump, the North Side center’s director of 30 years, passed in March 2018, he took the spirit of the center with him. Everyone remembers Frump as a gruff man with a gentle heart for kids.
When Frump took over as “gymnasium supervisor” more than 30 years ago, kids had little outlet for recreation in the area. In his years there, Frump spent his own money, time and effort to keeping kids in the area off the streets. He became known as a friend, confidante, advisor, coach and father figure for many who came to the center.
“I’m here for the kids. I want them to know this is a place they can come and play any time,” Frump said in a 1993 News-Press article. “This is their facility, and as long as they don’t cause any trouble they can do what they want.”
The center most times averaged 50 to 65 kids a day at the gym. During the summer months, that number reached the 100s.
Karen Schultz, manager of the Washington Park Library in the city’s North Side, said many of the children who come to the library still talk fondly of Frump.
“He really gave his life to providing a good, safe place for kids of all ages,” Schultz said.
When the North Town Center and Humboldt School across the street from it closed, it left a void in the community that’s been filled by youthful inactivity and some trouble.
Vandals destroyed a food pantry at the Washington Park Library a few months ago. St. Mary’s Church had 100-year-old stained glass windows broken out. A rash of residential dwelling vandalism has taken place as well.
Hannah Barker, part of a group of people looking to reopen the North Town Community Center, located in the old St. Mary’s school on Main and Cherry streets, said several people have told her that if the facility was still there, there wouldn’t be as much crime and vandalism in the area.
“Kids in that neighborhood need some place to go after school, some place to go in the summer,” Barker said.
Barker added that when Frump died it hurt the center as well as the community.
“It just kinda dwindled off from there,” she said.
Washington Park Library and the nearby former Savannah Avenue Baptist Church have worked to fill the void.
The church operates the food pantry now. The library has summer programming and reading activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Barker said St. Mary’s officials, who own the North Town Community Center property, have said the group could open the gym twice a month. Barker said that isn’t enough time for what they want to do, but a meeting is planned with United Way officials for help starting a nonprofit organization to run the center or a suitable place nearby.
“We’re going to have to restart, we can’t go off the one Mr. Frump had. We have to start a new one, so that’s kind of our goal right now,” Barker said.
“We wanna try to use that building,” Barker added, “But if not, we have to look for another place. But we wanna keep it in the area between Highland Avenue and St. Joseph Avenue.”
Schultz said the library tries to help fill the void with its programming, but it doesn’t offer basketball or other sporting activities like North Town did.
“There’s been a lack of programming and things for children to do, especially if they like to do active things like play basketball and baseball, things like that, and they would go to North Town Community Center to do a lot of activities like that.”