I tried to access my secret consumer data. Their facial recognition software told me to smile

Yeh, this is probably precisely what the smile is for: getting more “views” of your face to improve accuracy.

Not just that, but if you even know about Sift, and want to know what they got on you, you’ve probably been guarded about letting personal information roam in the wild. That is, they already got all the low-hanging fruit (facebook mommas, etc).
“How do we collect on the data-stingy” is the goal by my reckoning.


Maybe a deep-fake based on the driver license and some random stock photo could do the job.


FWIW, I jumped through the same hoops. I’m a similarly bedheaded white guy, and it took the smiling photo on the first try. Lighting was slightly worse even. /me shrugs

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Yeah, especially the smiling selfie bit indicates that they only wanted it to better do facial matching with online photos (where people are likely to be smiling). I can’t conceive of any other reason to ask for that, other than as an additional data set for them to use.

Yeah, but that only makes sense if one was trying to get information on a particular person and one had an image of their DL (or a identification-style image that one could use to fake a DL), but somehow couldn’t find a picture of them smiling. I’d think that finding a picture of someone smiling would be the most likely photograph to find for any given person, so the verification value would be almost nil. If one was serious about verifying identity, you’d be only asking for expressions the least likely to be seen in online photos. (Though I’m not even sure how good facial matching with DL photos is, given that photos of cards aren’t going to be great, and the photos on the cards are obscured with watermarks…)

Asking for both a DL image and the subject making a different facial expression really feels like data collection. And as you point out, pretty reckless data collection at that.


To be clear, I appreciate all the culture-jam-spirit pics from Mr. Dunn and hope to offer facial recognition software some additional material offered in that same spirit.

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How does my smiling visage help a secretive consumer data score company prove my identity—or indeed, anything else of any importance? And why is the algorithm so bad at it?

There’s a software dev company out there (can’t remember the name) that builds widely-used facial rec software that, as alluded to by a couple of the other comments here, has the smile shot built into the standard routine. The more facial “map” data that is available to the algorithm, the more accurate the results tend to be (such is the theory, at any rate). So, more face positions ='s more data, and more data ='s more money for slime-ass companies that can turn around and make a quick buck on this pit of quicksand that is the surveillance economy. As a side note, the facial rec is 3rd party-provided, and there is no doubt a data sharing agreement between Sift and the 3rd party, so it’s a safe assumption that your “map” is on a couple different servers, at least.




Dance for your plutocratic overlords, serf. /s



I’d describe the expression in that first picture as smiling, but maybe that’s an English thing? I have no need to see you gurning to show off your pearly whites.

My first thought was “please smile for the satisfied customer photo which we may use in our advertisements. Assuming you aren’t too ugly.”

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