PimEyes is a thorough facial recognition tool accessible for everyone but raises privacy concerns

09.06.2022

A website called PimEyes offers a tool that can find pictures of people across the internet, including pictures that the person in question may not want exposed.

The tool allows users to upload an image of someone’s face, and then scrapes the web for similar images and indicates where to find them. It just takes a couple of seconds to get the search results. The New York Times tested the tool and found that it even works when you upload photos of someone with sunglasses, a mask, or even when their face is turned away from the camera. The tool is seen as a dangerous and alarming tool by many people online after they used the tool to search pictures of themselves or people they know. Since anyone can use the tool to search online for pictures of people without the people in question knowing their pictures are being searched, or even knowing that certain pictures are online, many wonder if the tool is safe and respecting their privacy. For example, a reporter found her picture via PimEyes, where she was dancing in a museum a decade ago, while crying after being proposed to. The reporter did not like that picture of herself and never posted it, but the photographer used that picture to advertise his business on Yelp.

PimEyes is intended for self-searches, but it can be used for other purposes too. The responsibility of the ethical use of the tool lies in the users’ hands. The tool itself does not necessarily provide any ethical or privacy measures to safeguard people their privacy online. According to the founder: “We’re just a tool provider. It should be the responsibility of the person using it.” 1

PimEyes is a thorough facial recognition tool accessible for everyone but raises privacy concerns
Image credit:
Jason Dent via Unsplash

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