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10 Years Challenge is a tool for Facebook to collect data on a user's face

Jan 09, 2020

You will simply share a picture of yourself 10 years ago, to see how after 10 years we have changed. Not only to see myself "from the duck swan," but this movement also helps us review the old memories of the generation 8x and 9x.

Although it is becoming a very hot trend, many social network users respond and seem harmless. But according to Wired editor Kate O'Neill, the 10 Years Challenge is the tool Facebook is using to collect data from users.

The 10 Years Challenge photos are the "food" for Facebook's artificial intelligence

Wired's Kate O'Neill first shared about her conspiracy theory on Twitter and received a lot of attention, more than 19,000 likes and more than 8,000 comments. She thinks the 10 Years Challenge photos are being used as a huge data warehouse to train Facebook's face recognition artificial intelligence.

"I don't think the movement itself is dangerous. But I know Facebook is using these data to train facial recognition technology and everyone should know it. It's worth considering." Huge amounts of personal data are being shared without any request, ”Kate said in her latest post on Wired.

Of course, there are many people who oppose this conspiracy theory, claiming that all the photos have been uploaded and shared on Facebook before. Therefore, Facebook has naturally owned this huge database without the trend of the 10 Years Challenge. Even most of them are public photos, which anyone can collect.

But Kate also said that: "Imagine you want to train an AI algorithm to recognize faces with age-related characteristics, and more specifically, the impact of age on faces when you are old. "Ideally, you want to have a set of images that compare your face changes after 10 years. That's exactly what Facebook gets without any effort."

Indeed, collecting data is not as simple as we think. Because it is a huge amount of data, if collecting each photo of each user, it will take a lot of time. Not to mention that sometimes users don't use photos of their faces to represent them. In other words, it is a lot easier when you do not have to spend any effort to get this image data clearly, accurately and with the attached description.

Photos often go poor with descriptions like where they were taken or how they were taken. For example, in 2009 you were at ABC University, and in 2019 you were working at XYZ. Or in 2009 you are in Hanoi, and in 2019 the picture was taken in Ho Chi Minh City.

Facebook denies getting involved in the 10 Years Challenge movement

A representative of Facebook confirmed that the 10 Years Challenge movement was self-created and spread by itself, Facebook did not create this trend and the images were previously shared on Facebook. Facebook also does not benefit from this trend and users can choose to enable or disable facial recognition feature to tag images.

However, Kate O'Neill still believes that this data is collected by Facebook and may not be used right now, but could be any time in the future. Over the past few years, we have seen many examples of social media trends, from tests, quizzes or asking questions to collecting user data.

The most recent is probably the "What color of your life" trend on Facebook, although it doesn't make any sense because it uses random algorithms but is shared and used by a lot of users. The Cambridge Analytica scandal rocked the global internet community, revealing that Facebook allowed a third-party company to collect data for more than 70 million users.

The purposes and conspiracy of Facebook when collecting facial recognition data of users

Is it bad and dangerous for Facebook to use your face recognition data to train artificial intelligence? In fact, it's inevitable, because all of this data you've accepted to share and publicize, it's just that you're helping Facebook do it more easily.

The good scenario is that face recognition AI can help us find people who have been lost for years. New Delhi police last year reported tracking 3,000 missing children after just four days of using facial recognition technology. If children are missing for years, their faces will change and look very different from the original pictures. Therefore a face recognition algorithm based on age changes will prove very useful.

But if it is a bad click, this technology will be used to make money by advertising goals more effectively. Advertisers get image data, your face, possibly some other information such as where you live or the job, so that Facebook will make more money.

Or this technology can also be used to evaluate insurance and health care. Your change after 10 years may be evaluated by these companies to refuse to sell or pay more because you age too quickly.

Even Facebook can sell it to governments or law enforcement agencies. Face recognition technology is essential in criminal surveillance and investigation. In particular, it is a technology that can recognize faces that change over the years, can be used to identify criminals who have escaped and are wanted.

In 2016, Amazon also started selling real-time facial recognition services to police departments in Orlando and Washington County, Oregon. However, this technology is also used to monitor the people, leading to the Civil Liberties Union asking Amazon to stop selling this service.


10 Years Challenge, or any social trend, can affect people in ways that are bad for users. However, these effects may not be as serious as user account hacking or password information theft. They only help other companies to get your personal data.

In the context of free internet services like Facebook, users are not customers but products. The most valuable asset is the user's data and personal information. Advertising companies and businesses are new customers.
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