News & Opinion, Tech & Gaming

There’s A Sinister Theory Behind Facebook’s #10YearChallenge And We’re Pretty Creeped Out

The start of another year brought the start of a new internet trend. 2019 has brought us the #10yearchallenge. And to be brutally honest, I love it. Celebs are jumping on the bandwagon to show us that actually, there’s still hope for all of us. And most importantly, the photos are taking us right down memory lane.

But there’s one person who’s delved a little deeper into the trend and has completely shocked us with her theory behind it all. Kate O’Neill, the author of Tech Humanist, made this skeptical tweet early on in the runnings and it’s got us all questioning the challenge.


This, along with her recently written article for Wired, has sparked hundreds of questions and awareness about the power of algorithms and the internet as a whole over our lives. Kate states that she realises the face recognition scenario is definitely plausible, and Facebook would, in fact, be clever to start a meme such as this one.

Many people have argued that the photos are all over the internet anyway, so why would Facebook need to do such a thing to collect data they already have? Kate’s response was clever and simple. If a company wanted to train a facial recognition algorithm on age characteristics and progression, you’d need data exactly like the photo’s being shared in the 10-year challenge. So instead of trawling through the data themselves, she says, Facebook has the power and innovation to create something to help them. And here, hypothetically, it is. The #10yearchallenge.

She goes on to say in her article that Facebook denies having involvement in the creation of the #10YearChallenge.

“This is a user-generated meme that went viral on its own. Facebook did not start this trend, and the meme uses photos that already exist on Facebook. Facebook gains nothing from this meme (besides reminding us of the questionable fashion trends of 2009). As a reminder, Facebook users can choose to turn facial recognition on or off at any time.”

She has some theories about what the outcome of facial recognition such as this would be. Perhaps it would be to help find missing kids, or even just targeted advertising. Although she does say this has the potential to be used in medical insurance quoting. For example, if you’re aging faster than your peers, insurance prices may go up. Seriously though?! What has this world come to?

This speculation certainly adds an exciting edge to the #10yearchallenge. But realistically, posting your teen photos alongside your current self isn’t exactly dangerous. So by all means, go ahead.

It has to be said, however, that we should be savvier in the way we go about using the internet and the details we share.

Image Source: Business Insider, PopSugar

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Isabelle is an avid music lover always in search of a good glass of wine and a weekend trip away. A typical Brit, is never far from a cup of tea.

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