Software written to create cache of facial recognition images.
This is either diabolical, or a great lesson in how creative people can use resources that are readily at their disposal to achieve their ends. A man in California has sparked an investigation by the team at Tinder after he stole more than 40,000 pictures from the popular dating site. Stuart Colianni first wrote some software that would mine key profiles for images, then uploaded those images to a now-deleted database.
He’s a homemade facial recognition fan, and wanted a cache of images from people who live in a specific geographic area, in this case, the San Francisco Bay area. In theory, the goal is to map their features and then see if his work in facial recognition is able to seek out anyone in the area.
No. That’s not creepy at all.
However, Tinder disagrees, stating that downloading the pictures violates their terms of service; interestingly, had Tinder been behind the mass sharing of the photos, that would actually not be a violation of the users’ privacy as their TOS gives them license to do so. However, when Colianni uploaded the photos to the web to work with them in Google’s Kaggle platform, he basically outed every account holder as using Tinder’s site. Further, Colianni made the cache of photos public domain, and it has been downloaded more than 300 times since its upload, according to TechCrunch.
What’s the problem?
What’s truly alarming about the entire scenario is that Colianni is not the slightest bit apologetic about this issue. He openly states that the current availability of photos for facial recognition datasets is unimpressive, and feels that taking people’s images off their private accounts for others to freely use is acceptable.
Fortunately, as stated above, Tinder is not as keen on the idea. They answered TechCrunch’s request for comment with the following official statement: “We take the security and privacy of our users seriously and have tools and systems in place to uphold the integrity of our platform. It’s important to note that Tinder is free and used in more than 190 countries, and the images that we serve are profile images, which are available to anyone swiping on the app. We are always working to improve the Tinder experience and continue to implement measures against the automated use of our API, which includes steps to deter and prevent scraping. This person has violated our terms of service (Sec. 11) and we are taking appropriate action and investigating further.”