Let's Face It

February 7, 2021
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A study from earlier this year has concluded that facial recognition technology may be able to determine political orientation by just looking at your face. (:-o)

Methods

As this study was mainly focused on evaluating existing privacy threats related to facial recognition technology (as opposed to creating new ones), the researchers used an open-source facial recognition algorithm instead of developing one specifically for political affiliation. The system used a logistic regression model to predict someone’s self-reported political affiliation (which was classified as either conservative or liberal).

Results

The accuracy of this system was measured as the fraction of correct guesses when comparing a pair of faces - with one face being conservative and the other liberal. Here are the results:

  • When comparing faces on a US dating website, the system was accurate 72% of the time.
  • Similar results were shown for dating websites in Canada and the UK, where the system was correct 68% and 67% of the time, respectively.
  • For comparison, humans were only able to guess the correct political affiliation 55% of the time -- barely better than chance.