The Relentless March of Radical Transparency: Polar Rose

Flickr’s about to get more interesting.

Polar Rose, a new web application, can recognize faces in Flickr photos and tag them. I was wondering when this was finally going to happen (now I wonder how quickly it will be rolled out to other social media platforms like Facebook/MySpace). Now you can find all of those photos of you holding a corndog with your gut hanging out, unaware that you’re standing behind a family taking a group photo at a the local street fair.

It’s going to get a whole lot harder for people to lie about where they were in an era when a stray photo someone took from across the street that happened to catch you in the frame is suddenly part of the accessible permanent evidentiary record. Good or bad, it’s the new reality of radical transparency.

2 thoughts on “The Relentless March of Radical Transparency: Polar Rose

  1. Nikolaj Nyholm says:


    one thing which isn’t mentioned in any of the articles that surfaced on polar rose today, is that you chose – like in facebook – whom you want to share your photos with. this also means that you can decide to entirely remove your name from a picture.

    hope that helps shed some light to the potential privacy issue.

    /n (ceo, polar rose)


  2. Derek says:


    Indeed – you are correct – thanks for pointing that out (and for taking the time to read the post). I should clarify that I tend to think that the filtering/privacy protection controls that social media platforms like Facebook currently offer will erode over time for a few reasons.

    First, there’s a lot of pressure to make accessible such potentially-valuable information public for the purposes of monetizing social media (and secondarily, for the darker end of government surveillance).

    Second, despite the best intentions of administrators of social media platforms like Facebook, it’s difficult to keep this much information behind lock and key (both because of its appeal to malicious users and because of garden-variety accidental security breaches/lapses). In addition, novice users who aren’t familiar with online privacy protection measures frequently don’t use them (or don’t use them properly). There’s also the sizeable population of non-users that don’t realize an online identity is being created online without their participation/consent.

    Third, the trend that younger people are generally far less concerned about protecting/hiding their identities and favor much more openness means that a larger segment of the population will be inclined to use an application like Polar Rose in a much more open fashion. I believe this third factor will be the most powerful.

    Keep up the great work!


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