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Professor leverages Facebook, Google to predict Social Security Numbers

Aug 06, 2011 Brian Bradley

Professor leverages Facebook, Google to predict Social Security Numbers
A professor at Carnegie Mellon recently discovered that Facebook and Google users' identity may be at risk on the platforms.
 Alessandro Acquisti took pictures of random people across campus and found that by leveraging Google's facial recognition capabilities and information found on Facebook, such as birthdates and birthplaces, he could correctly predict the first five digits of 27 percent of consumers' Social Security numbers. The Wall Street Journal referred to this as a "de facto identity verification service." "Facebook says users can upload profile pictures that don’t include their faces," the source reported. "And Google says it doesn’t plan to introduce facial recognition technology into its products without strong privacy protections. But it looks as though the brouhaha over facial recognition technology might be with us for a while." There has been significant hype regarding the use of social media and Google in background screenings, as many employers look to the web to determine a job applicant's suitability for a position. For example, one firm has launched services giving a firm a round-up of any social data that may paint a potential employee in a negative light.