Facial profiling and Coke Zero game

Technology can be fun and provide many conveniences, but it often comes with a hidden price; a price that includes compromises to one’s privacy.  The new “Coke Zero” facial profiler, as many have seen on Facebook or Coca Cola’s webpage, encourages people to post their pictures online as part of a benign game to try and find their “mirror image,” just as Coke Zero is considered Coke’s mirror image.  While the thought of finding another individual somewhere in the world who looks like you may be an amusing pastime, a person embarking on a voyage to find his “twin,” should keep a few things in mind. 

Coca Cola is a multi-national corporation which means it operates in conjunction with and under the watchful eye of our and other national governments around the globe.  Posting a picture on Coke’s website or Facebook may on the surface appear to be a harmless act; but giving a multinational corporation access to a digitized photo of one’s self contributes to the building of a globally accessible database that can be used for facial-recognition cameras and systems. The privacy implications associated with having potentially hundreds of millions of digital pictures from people throughout the world in a database (or databases) is astounding. 

An example of how large companies such as Coca Cola can be tapped by government can be seen in companies like Sprint, Yahoo, and Verizon.  Sprint has been “pinged” by the federal government some eight million times in one year.  Verizon, for example, receives “tens of thousands” of government requests annually for customer records and information.  Additionally, who knows if and when companies share customer information and there is no enforcement mechanism to ensure that companies comply with their privacy statements. 

Instead of engaging in silly games to find ones’ facial “twin” by having a company send your digitized picture around the world, American citizens might want to practice a bit of privacy-responsible behavior, and more carefully consider the consequences of surrendering a digitized photo of one’s facial features to a company over which they have no control whatsoever.

12 comments Add your comment

Rightwing Troll

January 1st, 2010
7:07 am

I both agree and disagree with your assesment… I’m so confused… I gotta think about this one…

As someone who was never a fan of yours when you were a politician, I gotta say I’m a big fan of yours now… That doesn’t mean I agree with everything you write, but I do appreciate the honesty, and the consistency of your convictions.

Happy New Year Bob, keep on keepin it real, we need to hear it. We really do.

Chris Broe

January 1st, 2010
9:30 am

I guess Bob Barr doesn’t want to buy the world a coke or live in perfect harmony.

The coke twin photo project wont work in China cause all chinese guys look alike. It’s like trying to tell who’s who during a suma wrestling match, “The fat one appears to have the upper hand. The one with the triple chin appears to be weakening. this sport has really taken off after they banned pile driving….”

Flash back to the old west, and the cultural clash with Native Americans:

Crazy Horse didn’t want his picture taken either. His reasoning never made sense till now. A true visionary, Crazy Horse thought that the camera would steal his soul, his identity, the very essence of what he was, and then that info would be used by big brother to create a totalitarian state that would turn his happy hunting ground into a fascist hell.

Many moon have passed since I have realized wisdom in Barr’s forked tongue, (or had a pow wow with a squaw). Are there dating services for Native Americans? Has the casino world turned all squaws into valley girls next door?

But I kid my Indian Brothers. How ignorant was it when Christopher Columbus called Native Americans “indians”, eh?

Oh well, you can’t change history. Funny, suddenly I’ve got this strange urge to gather together people from every corner of the earth on a hilltop to sing about a soft drink and hold hands and begin a new era of understanding and tolerance and peace………….

Asheville Dawg

January 1st, 2010
10:44 am

Lets all sing kumbayai. And don’t put your pictures on the internet. Privacy rocks

sane jane

January 1st, 2010
11:03 am

I can’t figure out why this Coke Zero app is setting off your alarm bells, when match.com is ALREADY a giant database of millions of faces (and a lot more info than that). Facebook, myspace, linkedin. If you choose to play online (as so many of us do, especially the younger generation) your information has likely already been compromised. A facial pic is the least of your worries.

Bob, the toothpaste is already out of the tube on this one. Have you actually been online lately?

Be careful, you’re starting to sound like Furman “Hey kids, get off my lawn / website” Bisher.

Hillbilly Deluxe

January 1st, 2010
5:03 pm

Since I only drink water from my well, am I safe?

Mrs. Norris

January 2nd, 2010
4:25 am

Too late. A large entity already has a database with your picture, along with name, date of birth, address and driver’s license number. They can and will share it with the FBI, along with any law enforcement agency that asks for it. Can you guess who it is? Seriously though, your face does not really say that much about you. It’s your social secuity number, fingerprints and DNA that you should be worried about. You Bob have a picture along with your name posted in a newspaper with a supposedly large cirulation. Let’s stick to the serious issues. Now, the one about cell phone companies sharing information with the FBI is a very good point. Too bad you gave it an “also ran” at the bottom of the article.

Joel Edge

January 2nd, 2010
6:29 am

Can’t see how a photo will hurt. I don’t do the facebook/myspace garbage. I’ve already been finger printed, thumb printed, photographed and added to the DNA registry by everybody in the state and federal government. I’ve already been notified twice that my personal info has gone missing by lost laptops and other government incompetence. The only thing the government doesn’t know about me is what I had for supper last night. They’re probably working on that. I don’t think a photo at Coke Zero would be a problem.


January 2nd, 2010
8:30 am

Can we return to the 19th Century? Please!

joe matarotz

January 2nd, 2010
10:00 am

Bobo, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

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Rational Person

January 3rd, 2010
11:53 am

This horse is long since out of the barn. All sorts of corporations and government agencies have our digitized pictures. If you buy a new computer, the computer takes your picture when you register it, and the company keeps it on file. Get a new drivers license, and the state has your picture on file.

I’m not sure what harm they can do you just by having your picture.

The comment about all Chinese men looking alike goes under the heading of racism.

Elegia More

January 3rd, 2010
12:59 pm

Thank you, Mr. Barr. Time for adults to wise up to the dangers to themselves and their children when posting pictures all over the Internet. Have you seen the article about the lady that put her child’s picture up on Facebook only to find that it was high jacked for a European porno site?

Readers may not realize that demographics companies have astonishing methods of matching your personal info to their databases to further erode your privacy. Yes, the Eye in the Sky CAN harm you with your own picture in ways we have not yet imagined or have not yet been revealed to the general public.

Big difference between Match.com and Coca Cola – the spying of the Feds via the phone companies is a prime example.

Thanks to Mr. Barr for reminding us that the road to 1984 is being paved stone by stone, with one privacy invasion after another. Stating that it’s “too late” to maintain your privacy/identity is like saying that if somebody has cut off your right hand, they might as well have your left one.