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“Twitter Tells Facial Recognition Trailblazer to Stop Using Site’s Photos”

presented by: Pema Bear 1/27/20

Raise your hand if you, your friends or your family members have posted photos to either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter in the past year? Now raise your hand again if you read through the “user terms and conditions” page on the website? People post photo updates on these social media platforms to connect with friends and family alike.  

            Last week on January 22, 2020, The New York times reported on a relatively new privacy debate in the field of facial recognition technology. A new up and coming small company called Clearview AI (artificial intelligence) has an app that can match a random photo of a person with their social media account. Clearview has taken 300 billion photos into a database and their sources have ranged from companies like Instagram and Venmo. Their app is extremely successful and is used by high profile companies such as the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI. 

            Twitter has recently accused Clearview for taking their data and photos. They have recently demanded that they stop gathering data and to delete anything they have already gathered. Other companies such as FB, are looking into their privacy policies to see if Clearview is overreaching in their power. In the past, companies have sued on the grounds of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for these types of issues. 

            Many people in the community have voiced their opinions/ concerns on this issue since this kind of facial recognition technology is cutting edge and may become the reality of tomorrow. A man who speaks on the half of Bernie Sanders, slammed Clearview saying that Bernie would do everything in his power to take away the law enforcement’s power from using facial recognition technology. The senator from Massachusetts said that, “Widespread use of your technology could facilitate dangerous behavior and could effectively destroy individuals’ ability to go about their daily lives anonymously.” Other companies such as Google, have refused to even make this kind of technology for fear that it could be misused. 

Clearly, there have been concerns from influential individuals on this issue. In my own personal opinion, I think that the world of digital privacy is not fully understood by common citizens leaving plenty of room for companies to steal data and use it for their personal benefit. I think a world with facial recognition technology would continue patterns of distrust within the government and make our country less democratic. 

These issues are directly related to what we are talking about in our class in three distinct ways. First, this article brings up the question of cooperate social responsibility, a concept we learned in this week’s chapter.  Second, the fact that this issue of facial recognition is a global issue that needs to be faced. Third, it also relates in terms of the stockholder concept. In this system, there are external stockholders at play. The external stockholders are high ranking officials in the community that can affect the public persona of Clearview and the customers (FBI) who will have to decide whether it is moral to use this product or not. 

What do you think will happen in the next 1—15 years? Would you want to have facial recognition technology all around you? How would this change your behavior? 


Hill, K. (2020, January 22). Twitter tells facial recognition trailblazer to stop using site’s photos. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/22/technology/clearview-ai-twitter-letter.html

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