Why Facebook Could have Used the ’10 Year Challenge’

Posting photos of our before and after in social networks seems like a fun game, but for some the use that Facebook could give to images has not gone unnoticed.

Last week social networks were flooded with photos of before and after users showing how they have changed in the last 10 years.

At first glance it looks like a fun game. Some laughed at the dark past of their friends, while others admired the positive change. Thus, other users took advantage to create memes, while some tried to raise awareness about climate change.

However, others saw other ends of the game beyond fun and awareness, mentioning the interest that Facebook could have in it and not only because it increases the interaction of users in their social network.

Kate O’Neill of Wired raised the idea that Facebook could use the ’10 year challenge ‘images to train their facial recognition algorithms. While at first glance such reflection seems a little conspiranoic, it really makes sense.

To train a facial recognition algorithm, it would be interesting to base it on the evolution of the traits over the years, thus being able to better predict how they will age. Having a database with millions of images of people taken with the same difference of years would be ideal to do so.

Many discarded this theory alleging that Facebook could use the photos of profile of the users. However, not everyone gets profile pictures of their face: they would have to clean up so that those who have a picture of their dog did not confuse the algorithm. Others do not put profile photos in chronological order either. Having a clean database of photos labeled with the before and after and taken with a temporary difference of 10 years is much more comfortable.

For its part, Facebook has denied having anything to do with the ‘10 year challenge‘, ensuring that it is a game created by users that went viral alone.

Regardless of whether or not it was intentional, would it be bad for Facebook to use the photos to train its facial recognition algorithm? Not really, and to some extent it is inevitable because, as we mentioned previously, our photos are already uploaded to social networks in and of themselves.

However, the theory put forward by O’Neil does help us to reflect on the data we publish on the web and the uses that can be made without being really aware of it.