The latest craze to go around the social media scene is the 10 year challenge, but is there more to this than just a bit of fun?
At first glance, the challenge seems like harmless entertainment, as users of Facebook and Instagram share pictures of themselves alongside one from 2009. This allows people to reflect on their lives over the past decade and gives the opportunity for friends to comment on how much someone’s image may have changed, or how terrible their friend’s dress sense or hairstyle was back in the day.
In the past week, this has really taken off, with many of the world’s biggest celebrities and sports stars taking part, including the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Miley Cyrus, Janet Jackson and Ryan Seacrest. Some people have taken this challenge for what is it supposed to be, sharing two genuine images, whereas some have used it to get a laugh or two, such as Dutch DJ Armin Van Buuren, who produced the below image:
However, as the challenge gains popularity and traction on social media, it has now started to attract some warnings that the social media sites may be using this opportunity as a means of mining more data about its users that can be passed on to third parties. Furthermore, some have suggested that the craze could have been created intentionally by social media bosses as a way to generate images to train algorithms and AI technology.
An article on Wired has suggested the latter – that Facebook and Instagram are comparing then-and-now pictures to train algorithms focusing on facial recognition to enhance age recognition and age progression technology. Kate O’Neill, who wrote the Wired article, tweeted her opinions on the matter:
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 and age recognition
— Kate O'Neill (@kateo) January 12, 2019
While the article is not accusing Facebook of starting the trend in order to harvest information from users, it does suggest that this is something social media sites may have done.
The Wired article is just one of a number that has raised concerns about the 10 year challenge and the data that users seem to be innocently passing over to social media sites.
Facebook has come out and said that it has had no part in the creation of the challenge, stating that it is a ‘user-generated meme’ that started on its own without the involvement of the social site. However, this response was also met with criticism with many referencing the company’s high-profile data breaches and mining scandals of recent times.
Could something that seems like an innocent bit of frivolity for social media users actually have a more in-depth and sinister meaning?