A new extension (plugin or addon for a web browser) has just highlighted an issue we all probably won’t be surprised by but have never thought about. Our social media sites are scanning our photos to learn more about us. The extension is called, get ready it’s a mouthful, “Show Facebook Computer Vision Tags Extension” and it displays the detailed tags that Facebook has used to label your photos when you post them to the site. The tag information is built by automatically scanning every image you post and using the information to create trackable details about that image. So, for instance, if you post an image of you and your kids at the zoo it may show tags that say: “3 people, smiling people, animals, nature.”
This may seem like no big deal but when you think about just how much information can be obtained from a simple thoughtless upload of a family photo, it can get a bit creepy. Most likely this info is used to help Facebook target you better with those advertisers who pay for the privilege to use the data to identify potential customers. It also is used to help with search results when someone is looking for photos of you or somewhere you’ve been.
Use this as a tool!
Oversharing online is more than just annoying. When you post a picture of your food that nobody cares about you are identifying yourself as a consumer who wants to be advertised to about that type of food. When you post that bad blurry picture of your kids in their princess dress, you’re highlighting that you should be targeted with more Disney advertising. Use this extension as a tool to help you learn that lesson, and teach it to your kids.
This extension can be a pretty cool way to help you and your kids see how much information about you is available when you post online. I always advocate for parents to teach their kids that the internet is a public place. Whatever you post can and will be used against you IRL (in real life) and so you should think about that before you post. This extension may be a great way to drive that advice home with your kids.
If you want to see for yourself, you can download the chrome extension HERE.