This site posted every face from Parler’s Capitol Hill insurrection videos

Late last week, a website called Faces of the Riot appeared online, showing nothing but a vast grid of more than 6,000 images of faces, each one tagged only with a string of characters associated with the Parler video in which it appeared. The site’s creator tells WIRED that he used simple, open source machine-learning and facial recognition software to detect, extract, and deduplicate every face from the 827 videos that were posted to Parler from inside and outside the Capitol building on January 6, the day when radicalized Trump supporters stormed the building in a riot that resulted in five people’s deaths. The creator of Faces of the Riot says his goal is to allow anyone to easily sort through the faces pulled from those videos to identify someone they may know, or recognize who took part in the mob, or even to reference the collected faces against FBI wanted posters and send a tip to law enforcement if they spot someone.

[…]

Aside from the clear privacy concerns it raises, Faces of the Riot’s indiscriminate posting of faces doesn’t distinguish between lawbreakers—who trampled barriers, broke into the Capitol building, and trespassed in legislative chambers—and people who merely attended the protests outside. A recent upgrade to the site adds hyperlinks from faces to the video source, so that visitors can click on any face and see what the person was filmed doing on Parler. The Faces of the Riot creator, who says he’s a college student in the “greater DC area,” intends that added feature to help contextualize every face’s inclusion on the site and differentiate between bystanders, peaceful protesters, and violent insurrectionists.

He concedes that he and a co-creator are still working to scrub “non-rioter” faces, including those of police and press who were present. A message at the top of the site also warns against vigilante investigations, instead suggesting users report those they recognize to the FBI, with a link to an FBI tip page.

[…]

Despite its disclaimers and limitations, Faces of the Riot represents the serious privacy dangers of pervasive facial recognition technology, says Evan Greer, the campaign director for digital civil liberties nonprofit Fight for the Future. “Whether it’s used by an individual or by the government, this technology has profound implications for human rights and freedom of expression,” says Greer, whose organization has fought for a legislative ban on facial recognition technologies.

[…]

The site’s developer counters that Faces of the Riot leans not on facial recognition but facial detection. While he did use the open source machine-learning tool TensorFlow and the facial recognition software Dlib to analyze the Parler videos, he says he used that software only to detect and “cluster” faces from the 11 hours of video of the Capitol riot; Dlib allowed him to deduplicate the 200,000 images of faces extracted from video frames to around 6,000 unique faces

[…]

The Faces of the Riot site’s creator initially saw the data as a chance to experiment with machine-learning tools but quickly saw the potential for a more public project. “After about 10 minutes I thought, ‘This is actually a workable idea and I can do something that will help people,'” he says. Faces of the Riot is the first website he’s ever created.

[…]

But McDonald also points out that Faces of the Riot demonstrates just how accessible facial recognition technologies have become. “It shows how this tool that has been restricted only to people who have the most education, the most power, the most privilege is now in this more democratized state,” McDonald says.

The Faces of the Riot site’s creator sees it as more than an art project or demonstration

[…]

Source: This site posted every face from Parler’s Capitol Hill insurrection videos | Ars Technica

Organisational Structures | Technology and Science | Military, IT and Lifestyle consultancy | Social, Broadcast & Cross Media | Flying aircraft