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Guest Nicole SG

Is the "10 Year Challenge" on Facebook a privacy scheme disguised as a meme?

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CBS News) -- It's the simple meme that's taking over your social media feeds: the "10 Year Challenge," where users upload side-by-side photos of themselves from a decade ago and now.

But it might not be so simple.

Facebook on Wednesday distanced itself from the "10 Year Challenge" after an article set off speculation that the social media giant could be secretly mining data from the photos to improve its facial recognition algorithms. It's a scenario that those who have studied social media companies don't rule out, despite Facebook's denials.

The photo challenge gives Facebook "a perfect storm for machine learning," said Amy Webb, a professor at NYU Stern School of Business with an upcoming book about how artificial intelligence can manipulate humans.

"It presented Facebook with a terrified opportunity to learn, to train their systems to better recognize small changes" in users' appearances, she told CBS News.

The "10 Year Challenge" popped up last week and across Facebook, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and Twitter millions of people have participated. The challenge generated 5.2 million engagements on Facebook in just three days, according to the social media monitoring tool Talkwalker. It was the latest in a constant stream of social media crazes — like the "Bird Box" challenge and Top Nine photo collage — that enticed users to join in with little concern for safety and privacy. There are also viral hashtags like #MyFirstConcertWas, which get users to reveal answers to popular security questions.

Speculation about the meme's ulterior motive flared up after Wired writer Kate O'Neill published an op-ed suggesting it wasn't just harmless fun.

O'Neill pointed out that the viral challenge has filled Facebook with labeled, side-by-side user photos taken within a fixed period of time. That's different, and easier to analyze, than the years of photos that users have already uploaded in no particular order. It's also more useful for technology that's trying to capture how people look and how they age.

Read more: https://www.kmov.com/news/is-the-year-challenge-on-facebook-a-privacy-scheme-disguised/article_009fef00-1a52-11e9-bcb9-3fcfa871c042.html

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