Tech

The Facebook 10 Year Challenge Might not Just be a Harmless Meme

The Facebook 10 Year Challenge Might not Just be a Harmless Meme

"Let's just imagine that you wanted to, say, train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics". Obviously, Facebook already has access to all your photos, but digging into them takes a long time, so why not have the users do the work for you with the meme trend setting the picture side by side?

U.S. facial recognition expert Alvaro Bedoya told USA Today that "you can delete cookies".

"Like most emerging technology, facial recognition's potential is mostly mundane: age recognition is probably most useful for targeted advertising".

Recently, a Wired opinion piece by Kate O'Neill explored the issues and risks that can come with memes and social games, such as the 10 year challenge. Facebook's data privacy practices have been under scrutiny since the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Common users and celebrities, everyone is privy of this trend.

She expanded on what she calls her "semi-sarcastic" tweet with a Wired article about whether or not Facebook really could be using the challenge to mine data.

Again, this is just a conspiracy theory and Facebook claimed that they have nothing to do with the meme trend and gains nothing from it. They even dropped it in Europe back in 2012 because of privacy concerns from the Irish regulators, then reintroduced it in 2018 with promises that it would be GDPR-compliant.

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"Vast quantities of images cannot only be used to train a neural network to recognize specific individuals, but taken 10 years apart (could) obtain an insight onto how aging processes work", said Marina Gavrilova, head of the University of Calgary's Biometric Technologies Lab.

Although the meme that's proliferated on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter is a great way to show how much you've changed over the years, and users are freely sharing the images, one technologist and follower of the meme pondered whether the entire challenge was actually something more sinister and sparked a discussion about the technology in the process. How do you think Facebook knows who all your mates are when you upload a batch of new photos from the beach? Well, it doesn't really have one, other than it being just a bit of "fun", or to remind us of our once awful hairstyle choice and fashion faux pas.

If you're still on Facebook, you have no doubt caught a glimpse of the latest meme people are sharing.

"It's good that finally, even though it took a couple days, eventually the conversation (began) of, 'Wait a minute, did we just play into the hands of the tech giants again?'" Barr said. They have denied starting it, but does that mean they won't use the data?

The mass data extraction of over 70 million American Facebook users was performed, and rocked the country so much that Mark Zuckerberg himself had to turn up to Congress.