It’s been more or less than a week that the world was taken over by another social media viral trend. By the time you read this and if you are an active social media user at the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter you already know what #10YearsChallange is all about.
The trend instantly went viral not much is known who started it, but people from all around the world are posting their 10-year-old photo with the latest one with a caption #10YearsChallange.
As being reported more than 5.2 million people including celebrities and various other famous entities participated in the challenge and the photos are still being posted on various social media platforms. That includes Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This recent trend which kicked off form a social media platform and becomes a viral trend wasn’t the first one. Earlier we all have witnessed trends like Kiki-challenge and another ongoing trend being termed as Bird Box Challenge after the film of the same name.
But this latest trend has created a reasonable stir for the social media users, also raising concerns at various levels.
The reason for being concerned with this social media trend was raised by a writer named Kate O’Neil, who writes for digital space.
In a series of Tweets, the writer managed to raise a few valid points which were neglected by the social media users perusing the ongoing viral trend.
Kate O’Neil wrote: Me 10 years ago: probably would have played along with the profile picture aging meme going around on Facebook and Instagram Me now: ponders how all this data could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition.
Me 10 years ago: probably would have played along with the profile picture aging meme going around on Facebook and Instagram
Me now: ponders how all this data could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition
— Kate O'Neill (@kateo) January 12, 2019
the whole thread of op-ed tweets by tech writer Kate O’Neil has given rise to the notion of various speculations. Such as the recent trend was as an exercise for face detection by the search engine.
“Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years,” said O’Neill in her later tweet.
She also raises the argument that Facebook already has access to these photos since the challenge often asked people to share their first profile picture to their current. But she validates her point of view that people don’t always upload in chronological order and many people have profile pictures other than themselves. People are themselves feeding EXIF data, the exchangeable image file.
With this latest exercise, the 10 years challenge the Facebook now has a very carefully crafted set of data. As she writes, “Thanks to this meme, there’s now a very large data set of carefully curated photos of people from ~10 years ago and now. Is it bad that someone could use it to train a facial recognition algorithm? Not necessarily. It could help with finding missing kids, to cite one benign use”.
As we all have seen recently that the data from Facebook has been compromised recently and personal information was leaked even with the privacy settings, this recent trend could go either way being useful to damaging.
“Like most emerging technology, facial recognition’s potential is mostly mundane: age recognition is probably most useful for targeted advertising. But also like most tech, there are chances of fraught consequences: it could someday factor into insurance assessment and healthcare”, she quotes in her other tweet.
Her impressions for this current scenario has generated a great debate on various forms, especially in a country like Pakistan where people do blindly follow viral trends but are not tech-savvy.
Professor Amy Webb, NYU stresses that this latest photo challenge is for machine learning, as she is currently working on her upcoming book on how AI can manipulate humans.
Another report suggests that Facebook has responded to this ongoing facial recognition speculation. In a statement issued by the company, Facebook insists that they were not involved in the start of this challenge and had no “benefit” from it going viral.
The official statement reads:
“This is a user-generated meme that went viral on its own. Facebook did not start this trend, and the meme uses photos that already exist on Facebook.
Facebook gains nothing from this meme (besides reminding us of the questionable fashion trends of 2009). As a reminder, Facebook users can choose to turn facial recognition on or off at any time.”