Culture

Tech writer's tweet about Facebook's viral photo challenge is making some people nervous.  

by Tod Perry

January 16, 2019

Over the past few weeks, there’s been a popular trend on social media called the #TenYearChallenge or “How Hard Did Aging Hit You” where people have been sharing photos of themselves from 2009 and 2019 to show how much they have (or haven’t) aged. 

The trend has also inspired a ton of great jokes.

However, things have changed over the past ten years. Bill Cosby is no longer “America’s dad,” Donald Trump isn’t best known as the star of “The Apprentice,” and Facebook isn’t just an innocent website for sharing pictures with your friends. 

It’s now a massive platform that makes billions off your personal data.

For this reason, tech writer and Fortune 500 advisor Kate O’Neill has a much more suspicious view of the #TenYearChallenge. 

O’Neill’s tweet quickly went viral so she elaborated on her theory the next day.

 

To boil it all down: O’Neill says the #TenYearChallenge could potentially provide Facebook (or any media company) with an unbeliveable amount of data that can be used to train a facial recognition algorithm. 

O’Neill expanded her theory further in a piece she wrote for Wired. In the article she explains that facial recognition technology isn’t such a bad thing right now, but it could be used for nefarious purposes down the road.

“Age progression could someday factor into insurance assessment and health care,” she wrote. “For example, if you seem to be aging faster than your cohorts, perhaps you’re not a very good insurance risk. You may pay more or be denied coverage.”

While Facebook probably isn’t using the #TenYearChallenge to advance facial recognition technology, O’Neill’s theory a great example of the potential consequences we face when using social media.

“My intent wasn’t to claim that the meme is inherently dangerous,” she wrote. “But I knew the facial recognition scenario was broadly plausible and indicative of a trend that people should be aware of. It’s worth considering the depth and breadth of the personal data we share without reservations.”

The #TenYearChallenge also a good reason to pause and reflect on how damn old were getting.

Remember, it’s never to late to start moisturizing.

Preview image via Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images.

Share image via Padmal Lakshmi / Instagram and Kate O’Neill / Twitter.

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Tech writer's tweet about Facebook's viral photo challenge is making some people nervous.