Taylor Swift Scanned Fans' Faces at Recent Show

Facial recognition tech at Rose Bowl concert aimed to match guests' faces with those of known stalkers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2018 5:57 AM CST
Taylor Swift accepts the award for artist of the year at the American Music Awards on Oct. 9, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – She knew you were trouble when you walked in—and so she installed facial recognition technology to flag you. Per Rolling Stone, Taylor Swift made use in May of a special kiosk at her California Rose Bowl show that secretly scanned concertgoers' faces, then shot those pictures back to a "command post" in Nashville, Tenn. There, the faces were compared with those of "hundreds" of Swift's known stalkers. Intel on the surreptitious spying kiosk, which was showing clips of the pop star rehearsing to lure spectators so their faces could then be photographed, comes via a security expert who says he was invited to watch a demo of the system at the Rose Bowl show by the kiosk manufacturer; Swift's own reps are keeping tight-lipped about it. Mashable calls it a "creepy" yet "understandable" use of the technology, considering the trouble Swift has had with alleged stalkers in the past.

Still, it raises a few questions, including whether the photos will be kept, for how long, and what else they might be used for; per Quartz, it's unclear whether any stalkers were identified at the Swift event. The Verge notes that concerts are typically private events, meaning organizers can legally set up practically any kind of surveillance. Swift's fans aren't the only ones who may be undergoing Terminator-like scanning: Rolling Stone notes facial recognition technology is increasingly being used at arenas and stadiums, not only for safety, but also for efficiency—by keeping tabs on how quickly guests move through a venue, event organizers can set up systems to keep the flow streamlined. "It holds a lot of promise," says a rep for Ticketmaster, which plans on tapping the tech. "We're just being very careful about where and how we implement it." (One person who may not be attending a Swift concert anytime soon: President Trump.)

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