Are you familiar with the 10-Year Challenge? It's the latest social media craze that's making the viral rounds, and you've probably seen your friends posting their own twists on it.
In this challenge, people are posting their profile pictures from a decade ago, side-by-side with a recent photo, to show how much they have (or haven't) changed. The trend has gained so much traction at this point, it has amassed millions of posts from everyone, including celebrities and social media influencers.
But before you post your own then-and-now pictures on your profile, is it possible that these images are being used by Facebook for a very self-serving reason?
Should you stay away from the 10-Year Challenge?
In the second hour of the recent episode of The Kim Komando Show, Kim and Andrew Babinsky talked about the possibilities of how the data collected from this challenge can be abused.
"This is actually data collection, facial recognition technology happening on a massive scale," Kim said. She added that insurance companies could use this data to see how you've aged. Could this be used to increase (or, if you're looking better, decrease) insurance premiums?
On the other hand, as Andrew pointed out, Facebook said it didn't issue the 10-Year Challenge and those old photos are already in Facebook's possession; why would it need to issue a challenge to get you to share what's already in their possession?
In a viral Twitter post and Wired report, tech consultant Kate O'Neill also warned that the images from the 10-Year Challenge can be used by the big tech companies like Facebook and Amazon to train facial recognition algorithms on age recognition.
Although it's pure speculation, it does raise interesting questions about how these photos can be harnessed for other data-mining purposes.
Should this discourage you from joining the challenge? It's admittedly fun seeing how you and your friends have changed within a decade so it can be hard to resist the trend.
But like with everything that involves social media and data collection, there will always will the good and bad sides of the equation.
Conveniently time-stamped photos
You could argue that this data is available on anyone who's on social media anyway so it's not exactly a ground-shaking revelation. Why bring out the tin-foil hats then? Well, it's all about context.
Although the challenge is not "inherently dangerous," it can instantly provide face recognition algorithms with conveniently time-stamped pictures that are around 10 years apart.
And it's not all doom-and-gloom Big-Brother-type scenarios either.
Feeding face-recognition machines better and more accurate age-progression algorithms can help find missing kids even after decades have passed, for example. A more reliable age projection will definitely help in this case.
On the flipside, these age-progression algorithms can also be used against you. For instance, insurance and health-care companies may charge you more for (or even deny you) health insurance if they believe that you're aging faster than your peers.
Just another reminder
Harmless fun or not, the big takeaway in all of this is, as we keep reminding you, please be careful about what you post online and on social media.
It's likely that there's nothing malicious about the 10-Year Challenge, but with big tech's hunger for data, there's always the potential for abuse.
Remember Facebook's Cambridge Analytica fiasco? It all started with a seemingly harmless personality test. (For the record, Facebook said that it did not start the 10-Year Challenge.)
Not all bandwagon quizzes, challenges and memes that your friends are posting are benign, so please think critically before joining in.
Like-farming scams, fake news, social engineering ploys, misleading viral posts and data-mining apps will always be common fixtures in social media sites, so please keep a watchful eye.
As Kim advises everyone, "The bottom line here is that you really should be more careful with just putting your data out there."
The 10-year Challenge may just be a "random little meme" but someone could abuse it. Kim concludes that even "if it wasn't intended that way, it can be used that way."
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