Facial recognition-based FaceTag student networking app prompts backlash

Released: October 2021

A networking app that enabled users to scan fellow students' faces using facial recognition and to exchange contact details prompted a backlash amongst Harvard students, social media users, digital rights advocates and commentators.

Harvard student Yuen Ler Chow created The Facetag, an imitation Facebook app intended to facilitate student networking. Despite providing a privacy feature whereby a user must give permission before someone else accesses their profile, and storing user data on Google Cloud, the app has raised privacy, ethics, and security concerns.

'It's kinda weird how I see so many people scared over the fact that I'm collecting this data, but almost all the other social media apps collect way, way more' he argues.

Chow claims 'FaceTag is the next Facebook.' 'I’m Zuck, but better' he claims, saying he aims to expand FaceTag to other colleges and communities.

The app closed shortly after the fracas.

Operator: Yuen Ler Chow
Developer: Yuen Ler Chow  
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Scan human faces
Technology: Facial recognition
Issue: Privacy; Security
Transparency: Governance; Marketing

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: October 2021