Did you take part in the latest Facebook meme, the 10-year challenge?
The idea is for people to post their very first ever Facebook profile pic next to the most recent one. Personally I saw this dozens, maybe hundreds, of times in my Facebook feed over the last week or so, and yes, I certainly took part in it myself. I thought it was a bit of fun.
Kate O’Neill a contributor to Wired disagrees. She tweeted:“Me 10 years ago: probably would have played along with the profile picture aging meme going around on Facebook and Instagram Me now: ponders how all this data could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression” Click To Tweet
Very plausible. Her idea certainly caught traction on social media where this tweet has already received more than 31,300 shares. Her supplementary article, published January 15th, has received more than half a million Facebook engagements and 601,300+ social media engagements in all, according to Buzzsumo.
In her article Kate posits: “Imagine that you wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age-related characteristics and, more specifically, on age progression (e.g., how people are likely to look as they get older). Ideally, you’d want a broad and rigorous dataset with lots of people’s pictures. It would help if you knew they were taken a fixed number of years apart—say, 10 years.
“Sure, you could mine Facebook for profile pictures and look at posting dates or EXIF data. But that whole set of profile pictures could end up generating a lot of useless noise. People don’t reliably upload pictures in chronological order, and it’s not uncommon for users to post pictures of something other than themselves as a profile picture…
“In other words, it would help if you had a clean, simple, helpfully labeled set of then-and-now photos.”
Facebook denies nefarious intent regarding this trend and points out that the challenge is a wholly user generated trend.
Do you believe Facebook?
I do tend to believe Facebook on this one. But based on the social media traction this story has garnered, people are suspicious.
Facebook has lost trust in the past year. Scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica data breach and rumours of Russian meddling in the US elections among others, have sullied the company’s reputation. User trust is at an all time low despite the many steps Facebook has taken to improve privacy and erradicate bad actors.
Yet, there is hope. People still love using Facebook to connect with friends and family (hence the organic 10-year challenge trend). Brands still love it as an effective advertising platform. Facebook can still turn this thing around.