“10 Year Challenge” sparks data mining concerns

Posted at 11:00 PM, Jan 17, 2019

(NBC News) The “10 Year Challenge” has gone viral on social media, leading millions to post side-by-side photos of themselves from a decade ago and now.

It may seem fun, but tech experts say participants could be giving up valuable data without even knowing.

Author Kate O’Neill addressed the potential privacy concerns in a Wire op-ed Wednesday, pointing out that seemingly harmless games and hashtags can generate searchable, neatly packaged information that could be used as training data for the algorithms powering artificial intelligence and facial recognition.

O’Neill’s op-ed prompted Facebook to release a written statement in which it denied the possibility of secretly mining data from the photos. “Facebook did not start this trend, and the meme uses photos that already exist on Facebook,” the company wrote.

Some say O’Neill’s concerns are overblown, and she swears she’s not against social media.

“It’s a great way to keep up with friends and family,” she says. “We just have to be aware of the data we’re sharing when we do so.”

Bottom line: if there is more transparency about the data consumers are giving up and how it will be used, they can make a more informed decision about what they want to share.

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