Taylor Swift Used Hidden Facial Recognition at Gig to Identify Stalkers

Taylor Swift Used Hidden Facial Recognition at Gig to Identify Stalkers

Pop singer Taylor Swift enlisted facial recognition technology at one of her gigs this year in order to detect if any of her stalkers were in attendance.

As one of the most notable pop stars in recent memory, it comes as no surprise that Swift has acquired a numbers of crazed fans. Over the last few years, she has been forced to take legal action against several men. One, Eric Swarbrick, whom Swift sought a restraining order against, had been threatening to rape and murder her for several years. Another, Julius Sandrock, was arrested after driving from Colorado with a mask and knife in his car to "meet" the singer. In another case, Mohammed Jaffar was jailed after repeatedly turning up at the singer's home.

Naturally, these cases have caused Swift to take security measures greater than the norm. At her Los Angeles Rose Bowl concert on May 18, a “special kiosk” was installed near the merch stands and dedicated selfie-staging areas. Inside the booths, rehearsal footage played. However, unbeknownst to users, there was a facial recognition camera inside the kiosk. Chief security officer of Oak View Group Mike Downing explained: “Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working.”

Inevitably, it raises the question of ethics, but technically, Swift isn’t required to notify concertgoers that they may be surveilled, since gigs are considered private events. And it seems like facial recognition at gigs may become the norm; earlier in the year, Chinese police located a criminal within a 60,000-strong crowd.

Photo credit: Jack Alexander.

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31 Comments

Howard Gotfryd's picture

I believe she is the great-granddaughter of Tom Swift.

What I am curious about: since Taylor Swift is notoriously controlling about concert photos and her image being used in media, did FStoppers acquire permission to run the photo of her, above, and why without a credit line? I read comment after comment on this website from photographers discussing credit and copyright infringement, and yet... instances like this one. It is baffling.

Alex Cooke's picture

Because it's the author's photo.

Howard Gotfryd's picture

Thanks, Alex. But without a credit line, it was not obvious to me.

Why would you assume she owned the copyright and that her permission was needed?

Marius Pettersen's picture

"Swift is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 40 million albums—including 27.8 million in the US—and 130 million single downloads."

McDonalds sells billions of hamburgers! ;-)

Marius Pettersen's picture

I did not comment on the 'quality' of her work, but on how large she is, and therefore people should have heard of her, even if they do not listen to her music. Just like your McDonalds reference, you may not eat there, but you know what it is/serves.

I know. I was just kidding, hence the winking smiley face. :-)

Marius Pettersen's picture

Heh, fair enough. Not always easy to tell since a lot of people use that as an argument.

Motti Bembaron's picture

And what does it say about standards...

Marius Pettersen's picture

I think we can agree that there is (too) often no correlation between fame and quality of output. Swift is not shit, not my cup of tea either, but I can understand why people like her music.

Motti Bembaron's picture

Very true. But when an artist is more about the show then substance I tend to wonder why he/she is so popular. Though, my wife would disagree.

Then again, my parents were also wondering about my music choices four decades ago.

Marius Pettersen's picture

Hehe, I often ponder on the same questions. I often refer to the good ol' chap, David Hume: “Not to
mention, that there is a species of beauty, which, as it is florid and superficial, pleases at first; but being found incompatible with a just expression either of reason or passion, soon palls upon the taste, and is then rejected with disdain, at least rated at a much lower value."

Motti Bembaron's picture

You hope. Although it seems those who choose image over substance still go strong in increased income and influence. I guess they seem to fade, or rate at much lower value, as we get older :-)

You're not her audience. When she started she appealed to people like herself: young girls and women. She WAS them so her music really spoke to them. She built her career on that.

Motti Bembaron's picture

No, I am not her audience.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Ah, I'm in the other bit of the world. No wonder.

Marius Pettersen's picture

Yeah, but still in the west. I'm sure Swift is more famous in the US than in Europe, but I've seen her name around from time to time (Norway).

Sounds like fair and reasonable use of the technology, IMO.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

One good way to keep criminals home and out of our society.

Maybe get them arrested. I don't believe many criminals think they'll get caught.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Every once in awhile there is a story about the same tech being used at sporting events looking for criminals, but they tried it at a Raiders game and the system melted down HaHaHa!

Robert Nurse's picture

I don't really care much for her music or her for that matter. But, this use of technology seems more like a security solution. Haven't public figures been assaulted or worse by people who just can't separate the person from the image?

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You hear the personal security reason now, but data is data. It will be used to "enhance experience" for Swifty's online connections. This means, TF's marketing team will be eventually using it to validate what those fans are doing, and tracking transactions from surfing to purchases to concert attendance. TF is spending more time on the business side, instead of the creative. She doesn't take any action without a ROI in view.

I'm all for it. Between my phone, my credit cards, my EZ-Pass, and all the cameras on the streets, I figure my every move is known anyway. I'm pretty above board in my life, so I'm not worried.

Simon Patterson's picture

I think about that sometimes. It's not whether we are above board that should worry us, it's whether the people tracking us are above board! I have a very strong feeling they are not always...

Rob Mynard's picture

I don't even think that goes far enough, it's whether the people in power 10/20/30 years from now think that what you're doing today is above board. Even the current US administration are at odds with Taylor Swifts beliefs, they could just as easily decide that anyone who goes to her concerts is an enemy of the state.

Simon Patterson's picture

That is spot on. There is also a risk in future that our data records will be misrecorded, or even amended to suit someone else's nefarious purposes. We may not be doing anything untoward now, but whose to say our future data record will reflect that? Terrifying possibilities.

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