Can Microsoft Use Your Uploaded Picture on viral How-Old Site for its Ads?

Can Microsoft Use Your Uploaded Picture on viral How-Old Site for its Ads?


Microsoft’s engineers were building a demo for the Build 2015 conference, when they came up with a site that simply went viral.  The How-old site.

First, the interesting story of how it came about:

We were building a demo for the day 2 keynote of Microsoft’s Build2015 developer conference. We wanted to showcase how developers can easily and quickly build intelligent applications using Azure services. Using our newly released Face detection API’s we set up an age guessing website called on Azure. This page lets users upload a picture and have the API predict the age and gender of any faces recognized in that picture. Now, while the API is reasonably good at locating the faces and identifying gender it isn’t particularly accurate with age, but it’s often good for a laugh and users have fun with it. We sent email to a group of several hundred within Microsoft asking them to try the page for a few minutes and give us feedback – optimistically hoping for a few tens of people to try it out and generate some usage data to test the demo. But here is what our dashboard showed in three hours:

Rather interesting story, where the site built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud goes viral.  Unfortunately, however, most of the people find – to their horror or amazement (as in mine) – that their ages are guessed “spectacularly wrong”!  As this blogger attending the Build 2015 admitted of his fetish to try the tool on his own photo.  The app was off by 4 years.

Testing the How-Old app from Microsoft

Testing the How-Old app from Microsoft

The results on yours truly however were off by roughly 8 years!  This guy however got two results for his age and now he is “spectacularly confused” 🙂

Does Microsoft own right to use your photo and name?

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Twitter user @Waldo reports that since How-Old is built on Microsoft’s Azure platform, its “Terms of Service” apply for the pictures you upload.

Essentially saying that Microsoft has rights to use the pictures you upload in whatever way they like and to also publish your name in future.

Can Microsoft Use Your Uploaded Picture on viral How-Old Site for its Ads? #HowOldbot Click To Tweet

Haaretz points out what it may mean for you in layman terms:

Specifically, the Terms of Use specify that, by uploading a photo, the user is granting Microsoft and its affiliates “permission to use your Submission in connection with the operation of their Internet businesses … including, without limitation, the license rights to copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform…” as well as to “publish your name … and to sublicense such rights to any supplier of the Website Services.”

So, if you have used – or intend to use – How-Old.Net, don’t be surprised if someday you see your face and name gracing a Microsoft ad.

However, the photo upload page clearly says though that the photo is not kept with Microsoft!


 One is not quite sure whether your picture is safe or not.  So, if I were you, I may still check out the age – just for fun of course! – but use a picture that I wouldn’t be too embarrassed to see later.

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