Egor Tsvetkov - Your Face Is Big Data

The next time you ride the subway in St. Petersburg, watch out for 21-year-old photographer Egor Tsvetkov. He recently unveiled a new project called “YOUR FACE IS BIG DATA,” which he created by semi-secretly photographing passengers seated across from him on the city’s metro, without asking their permission.

Using these pictures, Tsvetkov turned to an online service called FindFace, which allows you to upload random photographs of a person’s face. Using facial recognition technology, FindFace then searches the image database of Vkontakte, Russia’s most popular social network. If it finds a match, it does its best to identify the person in the picture. Any photo posted and tagged on Vkontakte can be found this way, provided that the user has opted to make his or her postings public. (Most users do.)

FindFace was launched this February by the Moscow-based company N-Tech.lab, which says the service was designed to facilitate online dating, allowing users to photograph anyone on the street, locate their social media profile, and learn more about them, before trying to get acquainted directly.

Tsvetkov says FindFace was able to find social media accounts for 70 percent of the young people he photographed, though it worked only half as often with pictures of older individuals.

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