March 5, 2017
Do you really think you have privacy in today’s world? If you do, then a social experiment conducted by a Russian student may make you reconsider.
Nowadays, it’s a common thing to share one’s private photos on social media. I believe that it’s difficult to find a person who has never taken a selfie or hasn’t shared any details of their private life online. Moreover, those who choose to stay away from this selfie craze may even be considered some kind of weirdos. It’s not “normal” anymore to keep your life for yourself – you are supposed to share your experiences with the illusory world of digital “friends.”
These phenomena of modern society inspired Russian photography and art student Egor Tsvetkov to conduct a thought-provoking social experiment titled “Your face is big data”.
For the purpose of the experiment, he took photos of 100 random people on the Moscow subway. Egor says that the majority of them didn’t even notice that he was taking pictures of them – most of them just stared at their smartphone screens and didn’t pay any attention to what was going on around. Among other things, this kind of reaction sparked his interest.
However, the best part came when Egor ran the photos through a facial recognition application called “FindFace” that he created himself. The goal was to test whether the app could use photos to successfully identify random people on the social network “Vkontakte” (“InTouch”), which, in fact, is more popular in Russia than Facebook.
As a result, Egor found out that the app was working perfectly and managed to identify 70% of photographed people on the social network!
See the results for yourself:
As you can see in the images above, people look really different in the photos Egor took and those shared online. It makes sense why – people usually upload only those pictures that show themselves in the best light. No one wants to look ugly or unhappy in a photo available online. Modern apps also help with this and can fix even the worst pictures to make the person look more attractive than they really are. After all, most people don’t care to show their true self on social media – they seek to present a “perfect” image of themselves.
This social experiment is another reminder that there is no such thing as privacy in the modern world. As for the consequences of this, you can guess what could potentially happen in the future, with the further progress of technology. Identifying someone by photo is no longer a privilege of secret services and police. Any person with basic computer skills can do a basic research online and discover tons of information about someone else (which they willingly shared online).
“My project is a clear illustration of the future that awaits us if we continue to discover ourselves on the Internet to the extent that we do today,” Egor said.
So next time you want to upload a selfie or share something personal on Facebook, remember this social experiment and think twice 😉
Image credit: Egor Tsvetkov