In addition to public scrutiny, creators who speak up risk damaging their relationship with the company to whom they are locked in a financial symbiosis. Content creation, especially around popular titles, can be a lucrative niche. But many influencers have no formal partnership with a publisher or developer, and are not paid directly to promote a game or franchise. That makes the threat of blacklisting or exclusion from events impossible to ignore. To this point, however, none of the creators who spoke with The Post have been retaliated against for statements made about the lawsuit; their audiences, too, have been mostly receptive.
When a secretive start-up scraped the internet to build a facial-recognition tool, it tested a legal and ethical limit -- and blew the future of privacy in America wide open. In May 2019, an agent at the Department of Homeland Security received a trove of unsettling images. Found by Yahoo in a Syrian user's account, the photos seemed to document the sexual abuse of a young girl. One showed a man with his head reclined on a pillow, gazing directly at the camera. The man appeared to be white, with brown hair and a goatee, but it was hard to really make him out; the photo was grainy, the angle a bit oblique. The agent sent the man's face to child-crime investigators around the country in the hope that someone might recognize him. When an investigator in New York saw the request, she ran the face through an unusual new facial-recognition app she had just started using, called Clearview AI. The team behind it had scraped the public web -- social media, employment sites, YouTube, Venmo -- to create a database with three billion images of people, along with links to the webpages from which the photos had come. This dwarfed the databases of other such products for law enforcement, which drew only on official photography like mug shots, driver's licenses and passport pictures; with Clearview, it was effortless to go from a face to a Facebook account. The app turned up an odd hit: an Instagram photo of a heavily muscled Asian man and a female fitness model, posing on a red carpet at a bodybuilding expo in Las Vegas. The suspect was neither Asian nor a woman. But upon closer inspection, you could see a white man in the background, at the edge of the photo's frame, standing behind the counter of a booth for a workout-supplements company. On Instagram, his face would appear about half as big as your fingernail. The federal agent was astounded. The agent contacted the supplements company and obtained the booth worker's name: Andres Rafael Viola, who turned out to be an Argentine citizen living in Las Vegas.
The social media company had in July raised its settlement offer by $100 million to $650 million in relation to the lawsuit, in which Illinois users accused it of violating the U.S. state's Biometric Information Privacy Act. The revised settlement agreement resolved the court's concerns, leading to the preliminary approval of the class action settlement, Judge James Donato wrote in an order filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. "Preliminary approval of the amended stipulation of class action settlement, Dkt. No. 468, is granted, and a final approval hearing is set for January 7, 2021," the judge said in the eight-page order. Facebook allegedly violated the state's law through its "Tag Suggestions" feature, which allowed users to recognize their Facebook friends from previously uploaded photos, according to the lawsuit, which began in 2015.
Just two weeks ago Facebook settled a lawsuit alleging violations of privacy laws in Illinois (for the considerable sum of $550 million). Now controversial startup Clearview AI, which has gleefully admitted to scraping and analyzing the data of millions, is the target of a new lawsuit citing similar violations. Clearview made waves earlier this year with a business model seemingly predicated on wholesale abuse of public-facing data on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on. If your face is visible to a web scraper or public API, Clearview either has it or wants it and will be submitting it for analysis by facial recognition systems. Just one problem: That's illegal in Illinois, and you ignore this to your peril, as Facebook found.
Tinder users have known for a while that the price you pay for the dating app's premium service, Tinder Plus, might not be the same amount the people you're swiping are shelling out. Tinder has already settled an age discrimination lawsuit in California, which saw users over 29 in the state -- who, like all U.S. users, had been paying double what younger people were for the subscription -- eligible for part of a settlement totalling $23 million. Now the Australian consumer organisation Choice has filed an official complaint with the national consumer commission, the ACCC, after conducting a mystery-shopper survey that found prices for a one-month subscription to Tinder Plus ranged from AUD$6.99 to more than AUD$34, with no transparency upfront about the variation. Tinder Plus is the lowest tier of Tinder's premium subscription options, offering users extra features like unlimited swipes, the ability to undo left-swipes, and Super Likes and Boosts to help get your profile more attention. There's also Tinder Gold, which includes all the above as well as the ability to see who's already swiped right on you and Top Picks, and the new Platinum tier, which includes the ability to message people you haven't actually matched with yet.
Last week three individuals filed a lawsuit against Microsoft Corporation in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, with a request for class action certification. Microsoft's multitude of Business and Enterprise editions offer more advanced feature sets than the Home and Personal editions, with collaborative applications and management tools designed for meeting enterprise security and compliance challenges. The plaintiffs contend that Microsoft is routinely violating the privacy of customers who pay for business subscriptions to Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365). They allege that "Microsoft shares its business customers' data with Facebook and other third parties, without its business customers' consent." The complaint also accuses Microsoft of sharing business customers' data with third-party developers and with "hundreds of subcontractors ... without requiring the subcontractors to keep the data private and secure." And they maintain that Microsoft uses their business customers' private data "to develop and sell new products and services--and otherwise benefit itself."
Facebook has agreed to pay $650 million – $100 million more than before – to settle a long-running class-action lawsuit over its use of facial recognition technology. "We are focused on settling as it is in the best interest of our community and our shareholders to move past this matter," Facebook said in a statement. Three Illinois residents sued Facebook under a state law, the Biometric Information Privacy Act, which allows residents who have had their faces scanned for data without written consent to sue. The lawsuit, which was certified as a class action, involved gathering facial data for a Facebook feature that suggests the name of people in users' photos and could have exposed Facebook to billions in damages. The problem with AI? Study says it's too white and male, calls for more women, minorities Facial recognition software is courting more controversy in the wake of nationwide protests over police brutality.
Facebook will now hand over a total of $650 million to settle a lawsuit over the company's use of facial recognition technology. The social network added $100 million to its initial $550 million settlement, Facebook revealed in court documents reported by Fortune. The lawsuit dates back to 2015, when the company was hit with a class action lawsuit saying Facebook violated an Illinois privacy law that required companies obtain "explicit consent" before collecting biometric data from users. At issue was Facebook's "tag suggestions" feature, which used facial recognition to scan photos and automatically suggest tags when users uploaded new images. The new $650 million settlement comes as officials around the country have pushed for facial recognition bans.
Facebook in January agreed to a historic $550 million settlement over its face-identifying technology. But now, the federal judge overseeing the case is refusing the accept the deal. Facebook in January agreed to a historic $550 million settlement over its face-identifying technology. But now, the federal judge overseeing the case is refusing the accept the deal. Next week, lawyers for Facebook will be back in court, trying to convince a judge they should be allowed to settle a class action suit that accuses the company of violating users' privacy.
A group of African American content creators has launched a putative class action against YouTube and its Alphabet parent company for allegedly violating various laws intended to prevent racial discrimination. The lawsuit represents the latest courtroom attack on the increasingly controversial immunities afforded digital services under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The complaint filed on Tuesday in California federal court objects to the way in which YouTube is employing artificial intelligence, algorithms, and other filtering tools. The social video site uses these tools to help viewers screen out potentially mature content, but the plaintiffs here say that by employing a "Restricted Mode," this acts as an improper censor. What's more, the complaint adds, the system is rife with "digital racism," where users are essentially profiled on race, identity and viewpoints.