Many concerns that the trend of posting photos after 10 years is just a ploy for Facebook to collect user data.
(Compilation of article by author Kate O’Neill, Wired magazine about the trend of posting 10-year portraits on Facebook.)
While people happily posted current portraits 10 years ago, I took to Twitter saying they could be exploited to train users’ facial recognition algorithms and their aging.
Is “10 years trend” on Facebook safe?
That article received many mixed comments. I do not claim the dangers of the 10-year photo-posting trend, but I want to show that exploiting facial images on the Internet will be a trend that people need to pay attention to.
The purpose behind the “10-year trend”
Many people argued that the photos above appeared before, meaning “I left it to Facebook”, so it is normal to post it again to join the 10-year trend.
I don’t deny that because most of the content that joined the trend is avatars or pre-posted photos. However, imagine that you want to train an algorithm to recognize the face and predict aging, the most important data is a portrait of a person through each age stage. They are more valuable if there is a set period of time, here 10 years as the “10 year challenge”.
Talking more about the featured pictures on Facebook, the date of posting the photos is not always the same date of the shoot. However, through this trend, many people have added their own shooting date (year) to the article. In other words, this movement created a precise and detailed set of 10-year human portraits.
Besides, not everyone usually posts a portrait photo on Facebook, or that photo is out of chronological order. So the 10-year trend is an opportunity to have simple, “clean” portraits of many people.
Some suggested that many photos were not valuable or relevant. With images that have no value, sophisticated image recognition algorithms are complicated enough to filter and select images with human faces. For example, a friend of mine has been in the trend for 10 years but the character in the photo is a cat, the algorithm will easily remove it.
The trend of posting photos for 10 years is suspected of stealing Facebook’s user information. Photo: Oberlo.
Facebook denies related to the “10-year trend”
On the side of Facebook, they claim not to interfere or help create the 10-year trend, claiming that it is self-spread by users.
“Facebook does not benefit from this trend,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
It’s inevitable that someone will take your photo to train face recognition algorithms. The key here is their approach, to mine data on a large scale. There are 3 scenarios with varying severity of how these data are extracted.
First of all, facial recognition technology, especially aging prediction, can be used to find missing children. In 2018, New Delhi (India) police found nearly 3,000 children missing in four days using facial recognition technology. If they go missing for many years, their faces may look different than they were when they were children. As a result, the age-determining algorithm can predict their growing up.
The second possibility, determining age, will be helpful in targeted advertising. The advertising screens can integrate cameras or sensors to display content suitable for each age. If combined with behavioral tracking, location, and buying interests, advertisers will have more data to control us.
In the end is the possibility of having serious consequences. Age determination can affect the rating of insurance. For example, if your face looks old faster than someone else, insurance companies may refuse to sell or pay more.
We have the right to require our businesses to use data properly, but we also need to respect our own data. Photo: The Verge.
We need to respect our own data
After Amazon introduced real-time facial recognition in 2016, it sold the service to governments and government agencies. It raises privacy concerns as the police can be used to spy on people who are not guilty. Amazon was asked by many agencies and shareholders to stop selling this service.
Regardless of the origin and purpose behind this trend, users need to have a better understanding of how they share data, who is entitled to access, use, and the impact of that exploitation. For photo posting trends that attract more participants, it’s a rich source of data for emerging technologies.
Man is the link between the physical and digital worlds. Human interaction makes the Internet interesting. User data is a source of information to help businesses benefit. We have the right to require our businesses to use data properly, but we also need to respect our own data.
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