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Facial recognition adverts perpetuate crude stereotypes

November 8, 2013 Leave a comment

The Activist has received these comments by a Tesco worker on the face-recogniton advertising displays that have recently been installed in petrol filling stations.

In an attempt to increase the available overtime for me and to allow my colleagues to get their breaks on time, I asked and was trained on PFS (petrol filling station) at my store. Since then I’ve been over on a few occasions but last time there was a white elephant in the room, when I mean white; I mean two foot tall and by elephant, I mean a rather obtrusive advertisement board which no-one pays attention to. Mainly because the typical customer wants to be in and out of the kiosk rather quickly. I was happy to allow this rather ugly monstrosity to adorn the work-surface on which I work, because after all, it’s not hurting customers nor judging them.

Until now… Everyone’s favourite boss “Lord Allan Sugar” and his underlings have married the two technologies of facial recognition and TV advertisement into one neat package. The aim is simple, scan a customer then judge them according to gender and age, then show the advert which will “target the demographic” by means of slotting the unwitting customer into arbitrary stereotypical categories. But how long will it be until it’s recognises your race or your body weight and offers dietary products and other products that the corporate elite believe that you should have should have, based on your perceived stereotype and the sensitive information on which this device captures.

Now let’s put this into context if I were to offer at the checkout, perfume for females and deodorant to males on the basis of sex, or afro-caribbean roast chicken, all because the top brass has a twisted, racist and stereotypical world view, I’d get punched in the face until it resembles a rotten potato (and rightfully so!). To quote Simon Sugar the chief executive of amscreen and eldest son of Lord Sugar, “…brands deserve to know not just an estimation of how many eyeballs are viewing their adverts, but who they are too”. The quote underlines the shear arrogance of Simon Sugar and his personal view that the working class owes them a favour. Just because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth as opposed to a pickaxe.

It’s clear to anyone with a brain that this device and the underlying concept is Orwellian and can be sexist, racist and damn right offensive. This isn’t to mention its potential for abuse. Now the main argument is that this “profiling” is done on social media sites and the internet as a whole. This isn’t to say that this activity isn’t abhorrent in itself,  but at least on Facebook I can choose the information I share and what it says (according to my facebook I live on the other side of the world) while in this case, the device is taking your personal information without your consent. Either way I shall urge my USDAW rep to fight to remove this from my store and Tesco stores nationwide because this device perpetuates sexism and ageism.