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The Bizarre Theory That #10YearChallenge Is A Facebook Data Mining Plot

A theory suggesting the newest meme to sweep the internet is actually a data mining activity orchestrated by Facebook has picked up so much traction the social media giant has now responded.

The 10 Year Challenge has become the latest social media trend to overtake feeds across multiple networks including Twitter, Instagram and of course Facebook.

It involves users posting a split image of themselves from 2009 and from 2019, with people then commenting on how much their lives and looks had or had not changed in the last decade.

It's gone viral online with a  string of celebrities and media personalities also taking part in the challenge.

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The conspiracy theory that the light-hearted meme could have a hidden secret purpose was first set out by Wired contributor Kate O'Neill, who explained why she would not be taking part in the challenge.

O'Neill said she wondered how all the data from these photographs could be "mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition".

"Thanks to this meme, there's now a very large data set of carefully curated photos of people from ~10 years ago and now," O'Neill said in a series of tweets after her initial post went viral.

"Like most emerging technology, facial recognition's potential is mostly mundane: age recognition is probably most useful for targeted advertising".

In a follow-up article, O'Neill said her intent was not to claim that the meme was "inherently dangerous".

But the internet -- as the internet does -- jumped on the theory and her tweet has since been shared thousands of times, with many saying they had similar concerns in the wake of recent massive data breaches surrounding Facebook.

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The social media giant has since denied the theory replying to a tweet sharing O'Neill's article and insisted Facebook had nothing to do with the meme.

"The 10 year challenge is a user-generated meme that started on its own, without our involvement," Facebook said.

It's evidence of the fun people have on Facebook, and that's it.

Other users have also dismissed the theory saying Facebook and other social media channels already had access to those photos if they needed them, including through time-stamped old profile pictures.

"Of course. And I'm not trying to say this is a crisis or that it's inherently dangerous. But just for fun, let's play this out," O'Neill replied to those users.

Featured Image: Instagram/Twitter

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au