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The Dark Side of Social Media: Facial Recognition Through the Eyes of a Cyber Security Expert

Facial recognition technology is in full swing


Have you seen the “Ten Year Challenge?” Unless you’ve been living under a rock all this time, the answer is probably “Yes.” “Ten Year Challenge” is a popular trend that encourages social media users to post a current and a 10-year-old picture as a side-by-side comparison. While no one can argue how interesting it is to see what difference a decade can make to our appearance, there is another question that deserves our attention:

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Is your privacy in danger?

In recent times, an increasing number of desktop PC users have installed VPN Chrome to keep their browsing history private. After all, it’s alarming enough that search engines can see your entire search history, and you’d hardly want nosy snoopers to take a peek inside. When on Facebook, however, many users choose to take the light-hearted approach and not worry about protecting their privacy as much as they otherwise might, thinking they’re safely hidden behind their profile’s privacy settings. While it’s true that these will protect your content from users who you haven’t added to your network of friends, there’s another threat to your privacy that many have failed to consider.

There’s a new big brother in town

It’s no secret that Facebook is using facial recognition technology for fine-tuning the adverts that get shown to you. For instance, the said technology allows them to make an accurate assessment of your current age, which opens the door to custom-tailoring the ads that you receive to what your most likely interests might be. It’s not hard to guess that older people will be more inclined to click on a pension-related ad than the younger population, right? With such an extensive database of photos to analyze, Facebook won’t be running out of work any time soon.

Facial recognition technology is in full swing

Since you’ve likely shared a ton of interests and details about you, Facebook knows who you are and what rocks your boat just by looking at you. You may be using the best VPN Chrome solutions out there, but if you’re logged in to an account that has your full name associated to it, no amount of preventative measures will help. In fact, class-action lawsuits are the only thing that seems to be holding back Facebook’s efforts to keep using facial recognition technology as they please.

Certain types of personal data can be replaced, whereas others cannot

If your credit card data gets out in the open, it’s an unfortunate event for sure. But luckily, you can always call your bank, have them cancel your current card and issue a new one. As much of a hassle as it may be, the process itself is no rocket science. Now, imagine trying to do the same with your face; not quite as easy, right?

Facebook is constructing a template to identify you

In the old times, your full name and interests were pretty much everything that Facebook had on file about you. That’s enough to raise some privacy concerns, but fast forward to modern times, and we may have an even greater issue on our hands. Just by running a simple photo through the scanner, Facebook knows who you are, where you’re likely to hang out at, and who the people you surround yourself with AR. This is a treasure trove of information that advertisers can freely tap into.

How comfortable are you with the thought of letting a social media platform safeguard your personal data?

Facebook wants to ensure that your privacy is in good hands. But their actions don’t seem to be aligned with their words. Looking at the history of events that cast a dim light on their user privacy protection measures doesn’t inspire too much confidence either. In 2011, Facebook was found guilty of falsely claiming that third-party apps were granted only the kind of data they needed to function. At a certain point in 2013, all it took for you to get your hands on someone’s email and phone number was having them in your network of friends. And the list goes on. In fact, there’s enough material to write a whole separate article on the topic.

Now’s the time to start thinking about the footprints you leave online

Before it gets too late, that is. Keep in mind that anything you post on Facebook may be used in a manner that’s not in your best interest, even if it stays within the platform. A good practice is to only post the kind of data you wouldn’t mind getting out in public. Your private photos should probably stay private and never leave the hard drive of your computer or smart device. In case you’re sending them to a friend you trust, don’t forget to use a VPN, so no one will be able to intercept them on the way there. The good news is that there are plenty of them to choose from, including a VPN for Android and VPN for Chrome (download it here).

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