“I made a breakthrough. it turns out juggalo makeup defeats facial recognition successfully. if you want to avoid surveillance, become a juggalo i guess.” – TAHKION, Prominent Security Juggalo
Unwittingly, it seems, that Juggalos have stumbled upon a convenient and festive way to thwart facial recognition software: with clown makeup.
At least, for now.
The fan-family of the horrorcore hip-hop band, Insane Clown Posse (ICP), are a strange bunch. Known as Juggalos and Juggalettes, the band’s followers love getting showered in Faygo (a time honored ICP show tradition), they vibe on lyrics about cannibalism and violence against women, and, of course, they paint their faces in the clown style of the group’s singers, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope.
And, apparently, that face-makeup is proving to be a real problem for facial recognition software, like that used by Livenation and Ticketmaster. The facial “landmarks” that the technology uses to map out faces — things like noses, cheekbones, eyes and lips — are very difficult for a computer program to recognize when they’re painted over.
“Yes, Juggalo face paint is genuinely quite good at avoiding facial recognition,” Tweeted the “security Juggalo” who discovered this unexpected advantage. Mainly because, the face paint redefines where a person’s jawline is. “In fact, considerably better than many of the styles deliberately created to attempt to thwart it. Whoop whoop!”
The digital rights activist group, Fight for the Future, caught wind of this phenomena and was inspired by it. They are the first national organization to call for a “complete Federal ban on government facial recognition surveillance,” and even launched the site Banfacialrecognition.com which calls facial recognition technology, “unreliable, biased, and a threat to basic rights and safety.”
Well, in light of the Juggalo anonymity epiphany, Fight for the Future, created an app called the “Juggalizer” which slaps a Juggalo Facebook filter on your face, to foil facial recognition.
Except, unfortunately for the app designers, the way the filter works, doesn’t work at all. The app only puts a picture of a clown mask over an actual picture of your uncovered face. Facebook still gets to save the original image of you.
So, realistically it does next-to-nothing to actually prevent facial recognition but their hearts were in the right place.
Because, facial recognition software does pose some strange threats to the privacy of The People from The Government. Should the Feds start using it to catalogue things people do, or as probable cause to arrest or imprison someone, well, that’s a slippery slope. Just look what China is doing with their “social credit score system.” And with the era of deep-fake content descending upon our society far faster than we’re prepared to deal with it, the idea of our government using facial recognition technology to enforce the law is terrifying.
Literally, no one would be safe from getting set-up, being black-mailed or framed for something. Once valuable things like “truth” and “reality” might start to unravel all around us.
So what are we supposed to do? All start wearing Juggalo face paint around, to work and on dates, out with friends and when we’re committing crimes? Is clown makeup really the solution to all our problems?
Hardly. In fact, Juggalo makeup isn’t even as effective as a lot of Juggalo’s would have you believe. Apple uses depth perception to put a face to a name (or a password) instead of facial landmarks, so you can still unlock your iPhone even when you’re all Juggaloed up. And Amazon and Vigilant Solutions (as well as other tech companies) are pushing their own proprietary facial recognition software hard, trying to sell our federal government agencies on their specific technology.
Soon, even the Juggalos won’t be safe from facial recognition.