Selfie Conspiracy

Are you constantly uploading selfies to places like Instagram or Facebook?  Is the number of likes really worth your privacy?  You may be hurting yourself more than you think.

There’s a thing called facial recognition, and recently companies have been taking this idea of tracking faces to a new level.

There was an experiment performed by Alessandro Acquisti (who is conducting experiments specifically about this) who did an experiment with some college students.  He took pictures of the students, and just by that picture he was able to find them on facebook.  Essentially, Facebook is a database of pictures, not a small database but a HUGE one. You may be thinking: “It’s a good thing I don’t have a Facebook!” Though really it wouldn’t be that hard tracking you down on Instagram either, because Facebook owns Instagram.  Really, if you’re anywhere on the Internet, you can be traced, even if you don’t have a social network account. How could this be? Let’s say your friend uploaded a picture that included you, you’re now in the photo database.

Although, the idea that someone could track you down just by your picture might not be as crazy as we think.  We give information out freely all the time.  We give places like Amazon our address to ship us things, which is linked to our names; credit cards to buy things online; your phone number for the pizza place.  So why is it such a big deal that they would suddenly try to get information out from our faces?  The faces some people post 50 times a day?

Our privacy is something people fear, and it’s not only the fact that we can be tracked down by pictures, by videos too, without us even knowing.  Companies are coming up with live facial recognition.  Based on a database that is created, you could know who is coming into a store for example, and who isn’t.  There are laws that prevent the government from identifying your face, but none for commercial purposes.

This software is still taking off; still expanding, and the scary part is that it’s only the beginning.  So for now the ads that were literally popping up at Tom Cruise is science fiction, though who knows for how long that won’t be our reality.  Maybe next time you take a selfie, you might want to think twice before you upload. Read more about selfies in this recent New York Times article.