Your Face is a Big Data

Egor Tsvetkov

Published on 25/04/16

© Egor Tsvetkov

The sur­veil­lance tools are no longer a priv­ilege of national secur­it­ies and cor­por­ate data min­ing. It was only a mat­ter of time for tech­no­logy to develop to a point when it would become avail­able for vir­tu­ally anyone.

Rus­sian pho­to­grapher Egor Tsvetkov has car­ried out an exper­i­ment to show how easy it is to identify com­plete strangers. He got the idea for his pro­ject from a new facial recog­ni­tion app called Find Face. For two months Tsvetkov pho­to­graphed people who were sit­ting oppos­ite him on the sub­way trains in Moscow and St.Petersburg. He then used the app to find the person’s pro­file on VK, the biggest Rus­sian social net­work. At the moment, Find Face cre­ated by Rus­sian developers only works with VK, but the developers have big plans ahead.

«I just used soft­ware that was openly avail­able», he says. «I didn’t buy any expens­ive pro­gram that is out there or coded some­thing myself. The whole idea is that any­one can do the same thing as I did. Over the last dec­ade, people grew accus­tomed to being more open on social net­works rather than in pub­lic. This kind of digital nar­ciss­ism makes every indi­vidual a poten­tial tar­get for all sorts of inva­sions of pri­vacy and blurs the bound­ar­ies of private and public”

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