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“X (Formerly Twitter) Faces Scrutiny as it Collects Biometric and Employment Data: Privacy Concerns Arise”

“X (Formerly Twitter) Faces Scrutiny as it Collects Biometric and Employment Data: Privacy Concerns Arise”

In a strategic move that has raised eyebrows and garnered attention, X, the social media giant formerly known as Twitter, is set to implement a significant update to its privacy policy. This update introduces a profound shift in the data collection landscape, one that revolves around biometric data and employment information.

Starting September 29, 2023, X will begin collecting biometric data, including facial photographs, from its users. This data collection will be part of the company’s efforts to enhance its services and security. X Premium subscribers will have the option to voluntarily provide a selfie and a photo ID for verification purposes.

Additionally, the updated policy outlines the company’s intention to gather employment and educational history from its users. The purpose behind this collection is to facilitate personalized job recommendations and to share relevant information with potential employers when users apply for jobs through the platform. This move has sparked speculation that X is positioning itself to enter the recruitment services arena, further expanding its already vast portfolio.

Notably, this update follows X Corp’s acquisition of Laskie, a tech recruiting service, in a significant deal that marked the first acquisition since entrepreneur Elon Musk acquired Twitter for a staggering $44 billion. This acquisition, coupled with the new data collection policies, hints at X’s broader ambitions in the professional networking and recruitment sector.

The updated privacy policy explicitly states, “We may collect and use your personal information (such as your employment history, educational history, employment preferences, skills and abilities, job search activity and engagement, and so on) to recommend potential jobs for you, to share with potential employers when you apply for a job, to enable employers to find potential candidates, and to show you more relevant advertising.”

Liberty Vittert, a prominent data science professor at Washington University in St. Louis, sees this move as part of X’s strategy to provide more personalized and individualized experiences for its users, potentially positioning itself to compete with platforms like LinkedIn. However, she also emphasizes that users should exercise caution, as this wealth of data could be misused by employers, potentially leading to decisions influenced by a user’s tweets, retweets, or accounts they follow.

Dr. Stephanie Hare, a tech ethics researcher, views this data collection as a significant endeavor, albeit one conducted with user consent. She doesn’t perceive this move as a civil liberties concern since users have the option to opt in or out.

X has clarified that the collection of biometric data will specifically apply to X Premium users. The company aims to enhance security by offering users the option to link their government-issued ID with a selfie for verification purposes. This biometric data can help X combat impersonation attempts and bolster platform security.

Elon Musk, the driving force behind X’s evolution, has also reiterated the platform’s plans to introduce video and audio calling features, with the promise that no phone number will be required. Musk envisions X as the ultimate global address book, signaling his intent to consolidate various services into a one-stop-shop platform.

It’s worth noting that TikTok, another major social media player, already collects biometric data in the United States. While TikTok’s privacy policy acknowledges the collection of biometric identifiers and information, the company has stated that it does not employ facial, voice, audio, or body recognition techniques to identify individuals.

As X continues its transformation into an “everything app,” users can expect more features and policy updates in the future, further solidifying its presence in the ever-evolving landscape of social media and online services.


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