#10YearChallenge a reminder of internet data collection

The possibility of Facebook using the popular hashtag for data collection should concern participants

It seems that today, our society immediately gravitates toward any hashtag that has the word challenge in it. So naturally, when the #10YearChallenge made its rounds on the internet, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and posted a current photo alongside a picture of themselves from 10 years ago. However, concerns soon arose that behind the fun or embarrassment of the #10YearChallenge’s embedded question of “How hard did aging hit you?” was a means to gather personal information from social media users.

Forbes reported that photos from the past and present are able to help Facebook’s artificial intelligence facial recognition technology. This is because of age-related characteristics and age progression. Others countered that Facebook already had access to these photos, as many of them were former profile pictures. Facebook claimed that they did not use the #10YearChallenge to gain any data or reap any benefits. The executives also reminded users that facial recognition can be turned on or off as users may please.

The possibility of websites being able to gather our personal information brings me to the question of just how comfortable should we become online. Do we even care if Facebook knows our location, home address or phone number? All I hear from elderly people is how they don’t want any of their bank accounts out in the open, let alone photos and home addresses. I am not saying that we should succumb to that extreme level of paranoia, but maybe a little bit of concern for the sake of information protection could be a good thing.

Occasionally, when I receive a friend request from someone I do not know, I think about what kind of information that person gathered before sending the friend request. But now we all must think about what software and AI can gather before the information even reaches a human. The internet feels like a temporary place, as we do have the option to delete our posts whenever we choose to do so. However, the capacity of technology to record everything that reaches the web should not be forgotten.

Data breaches do not seem too different from what people feared that Facebook was attempting to do through the #10YearChallenge. Maybe what AI can collect at any given time has the potential to become the next major data breach, such as the breach that Target experienced in 2013, wherein hackers uncovered countless customer accounts. Target was forced to pay around $18 million because of customer losses.

Even if those at Facebook’s headquarters did not take any information from the #10YearChallenge, I find the advances that Facebook has already made rather concerning. That Facebook can automatically bring up photos of me or suggest tags based on photos with other people in them is unsettling. Nevertheless, I would rather not go through the trouble of being like Ron Swanson and attempting to go off the grid by telling everyone to delete photos of me. I’ve accepted the fact that Facebook is always watching and already has access to my information. I hope that whatever they have gathered on me has given them a good laugh or two.

Post Author: Anna Robinson