‘Cloaking’ is the new biz of hiding from facial recognition

Run your thirsty selfies through Fawkes, and facial recognition AI will never know it’s you.


August 4, 2020

Has your friend suddenly started to look a bit like Drew Barrymore? She might be outsmarting facial recognition.

Researchers from the University of Chicago have invented a new way to fool face-detection tech. Basically, their software — called Fawkes — will Frankenstein someone else’s face over yours.

The human eye can’t always notice the results. Your friend still looks like your friend, even if, on the pixel level, Drew Barrymore’s face is on top of hers.

Clowns already beat the system 

The best defense against facial recognition used to be juggalo makeup.

But the business of “cloaking” — hiding your face from snoopers — is booming.

  • The startup D-ID blurs the pixels on your face.
  • As we reported on Trends, wearing a pixelated T-shirt or a pair of these yellow glasses might trip up face readers.
  • And there’s a market for them: 41% of people don’t want their employers tracking faces, and 54% don’t want advertisers to do the same.

Fawkes is only available to the coder set right now, but the researchers are turning it into a free app for the masses.

Their mission: Poison the data well 

If enough people cloak their photos, the researchers say, facial recognition systems can’t do their jobs.

But they might be too late. Clearview AI has already copied billions of photos off the internet. And its CEO says Fawkes could improve Clearview’s tech.

Translation: You can try Fawkes, but unless you’re a social-media ghost, your Insta posts might haunt you.

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