What the Tech? 10 Year Challenge
Are we too scared to have some fun?
If you're still on Facebook, you have no doubt caught a glimpse of the latest meme people are sharing.
"The Ten Year Challenge" has people posting their first profile picture, (or any photo from 2008) alongside their most recent profile picture, to show how you've aged in a decade.
It was started January 11th by meteorologist Damon Lane from KOCO in Oklahoma. He mused how he's changed from that first profile picture 10 years ago and asked his followers to upload their own photos.
Within 24 hours, the meme went viral. Thousands, then tens of thousands of people looked at how to put two photos side by side in Facebook.
Of course, some people asked if the meme could be used nefariously.
Tech expert Kate O'Neill tweeted that she wasn't so sure and then was asked to write an op-ed piece for Wired magazine asking the question and musing about all the ways the photos could be used to mine for information.
Facebook already has those two photos (if they are old and new profile pictures) and can use all of those uploaded photos to pick you out of a crowd of people, even in photos someone else took. Facebook uses artificial intelligence, facial recognition and algorithms to learn and find you and everything you like, think, are friends with, and where you live and work. By having those two photos side-by-side, O'Neill explained how it makes things easier for Facebook and other companies to know how you're aging.
One possibility, O'Neill suggests is that insurance companies might use the information to find out how a person is aging in order to determine if they would be a risk and deny them a policy.
Facebook tweeted Thursday that it has nothing to do with the meme and there is no effort to use or mine information from the photos, and it is just an example of how people have fun using its site.
Every time a meme passes around Facebook, we ask and worry if we should participate.
Many times it is a risk, especially if it requires people to click on a link that takes them to an outside link. This one does not.
Are we so suspicious that we can no longer enjoy sharing things with people?
We certainly have evidence from past actions from Facebook, but I believe this is a case of being worried about nothing.
Have fun with this one.