There’s More to Guess at Than Just Age with this Site

May 6th, 2015

Sometimes the best way to save face is to avoid sharing it. Sometimes, though, it can be hard to resist. Microsoft’s new age-guessing site — how-old.net — is a prime example.

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 10.53.40 AMOn the site, users upload a photo — of themselves or others — and a face detection algorithm goes to work to estimate the age or ages of the people pictured. In seconds, a yellow box resembling a sticky note appears tacked on the foreheads of those pictured with a number that can really make or break your day (that is, if you were brave enough to upload a photo of yourself).

But while the site says on its homepage that it does not “keep the photo,” the site’s terms of service suggests something else. It states that when you upload a photo to how-old.net, you grant Microsoft and its partners permission to:

… copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, edit, translate, and reformat your Submission; to publish your name in connection with your Submission; and to sublicense such rights to any supplier of the Website Services.

You may be wondering how Microsoft can do all this if it does not “keep the photo.” That’s a good question. Microsoft maintains that despite the permissions that its terms of service demands, it has made the choice for now not to store photos.

The company says in a blog post connected to the How Old Do I Look site:

While we use the terms of service very common in our industry, and similar to most other online services, we have chosen not to store or use photos in any way other than to temporarily process them to guess your age.

But that does not change what Microsoft could do with your photo under its terms of service, which the company says it can update “at any time without notice to you.” Yet another reason to be wary about this site and to think twice before sending your face or those of your friends and family into cyberspace.

At least when an amusement park carney gets your age wrong, you win a prize.

Find more Terms of Surrender posts here.

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