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There’s a massive bait-and-switch at the center of facial recognition technology.

Join the Open Sourced Reporting Network:

Human faces evolved to be highly distinctive; it’s helpful to be able to recognize individual members of one’s social group and quickly identify strangers, and that hasn’t changed for hundreds of thousands of years. Then in just the past five years, the meaning of the human face has quietly but seismically shifted. That’s because researchers at Facebook, Google, and other institutions have nearly perfected techniques for automated facial recognition.

The result of that research is that your face isn’t just a unique part of your body anymore, it’s biometric data that can be copied an infinite number of times and stored forever. In this video, we explain how facial recognition technology works, where it came from, and what’s at stake.

Open Sourced is a year-long reporting project from Recode by Vox that goes deep into the closed ecosystems of data, privacy, algorithms, and artificial intelligence. Learn more at

This project is made possible by the Omidyar Network. All Open Sourced content is editorially independent and produced by our journalists.

Watch all episodes of Open Sourced right here on YouTube:

Become a part of the Open Sourced Reporting Network and help our reporting. Join here:

“Obscurity and Privacy”
“Modern Face Recognition with Deep Learning”
“Face Recognition and Privacy in the Age of Augmented Reality”
“FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches”
“Are Stores You Shop at Secretly Using Face Recognition on You?”
“Due to weak oversight, we don’t really know how tech companies are using facial recognition data”
“Facial Recognition Service Becomes a Weapon Against Russian Porn Actresses”
“Creeped out by Facebook’s algorithms? Just wait until you see this new facial recognition tool released by anonymous Russian programmers.”
“How it works and why they created SearchFace – a service for searching VKontakte users by photo” is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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Vox says:

Open Sourced is a new project from Recode by Vox, which includes lots of reporting and writing on our website in addition to videos: We'd love to hear your questions about tech, data, AI, and privacy. Here's an easy form for you to submit questions for our journalists or contribute your own expertise:

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