If you’re on Facebook, you’ve surely seen the 10 year challenge by now. People are posting two pictures of themselves – then and now, ten years apart.
At first glance, it just looks like something fun that Facebook users are doing which you can join too, but what if …
Well, according to a tech writer called Kate O’Neill, taking part in the #10YearChallenge could be handing Facebook a lot of your personal data. The author stated in a tweet that lurking right behind the #10YearChallenge is the possibility that Facebook is using the pictures being posted to enhance its facial recognition systems and their ability to predict how a person’s face would look in future (facial progression).
Of course, Facebook has denied having any role in the trending meme, saying that it did not start the #10YearChallenge: the challenge is a user-generated trend that went viral on its own.
And as some critics of Kate O’Neill also pointed out on Twitter, Facebook already has those pictures from ten years ago. Moreover, a lot of the pictures being uploaded are junk, since many people can lie or make mistakes about the date an old picture was taken.
But is it the case for everybody, that Facebook has their pictures? No. So many people who have been on Facebook for less than ten years have taken part in the challenge and uploaded their old photos.
Surely, the challenge has made it a bit easier and Facebook now has a very large reliable collection of pictures that are approximately ten years apart, bringing us back to Kate O’Neill’s original hypothesis which could easily be achieved by the company.
So does Facebook know how your face would look in ten years? Maybe.
Do you know how you yourself would look? Maybe not.
What’s the big deal if they know and you don’t? It’s no secret that Facebook and Google know a lot more about some of us than we know of ourselves, but what could this information be used for?
For one, it could be sold to third parties for better advertising. And for instance, it could also have some use in the area of pension funds and health insurance by helping companies determine how fast a person is aging and whether he or she is a good insurance risk.
Just like when Facebook introduced more reactions alongside the like button, it’s not so obvious that this could collect more data from us, so a lot of people might not be aware.
Kate O’Neill has this advice for everyone: in addition to demanding that tech companies treat our data and personal information with respect, we should also treat our own data with respect.