I was wondering what kind of approach do you folks have to profile pictures on social media and elsewhere on the internet?
My go-to strategy has been not to have a profile picture at all, but that tends to be perceived negatively and often makes people assume you’re a bot for example.
One interesting option that I have been thinking about is AI made “artsy” portraits. These would allow for people I know to recognise me and for others to get a basic understanding of what I look like, but total strangers or facial recognition systems wouldn’t still be able to identify me on the street. However, the AI system to use would obviously need to be privacy friendly and totally trustworthy, which is a lot to ask.
Do any of you have any experience and recommendations of such AI solutions? Or do you have any other privacy friendly ideas for profile pictures that you would like to share and recommend?
Usually I go with a random picture. Unless I need to create more “believable” profile.
I use a lot this website: More Random Generators — Random Word Generator
Hello! I’ve never used one of those AI image generators, so I have no recommendations there, unfortunately.
Fully agree about no profile picture, unfortunately it does have a negative image associated with it. For more personal accounts, I tend to use a photograph of my dog. It is unique enough for people to associate it with me, and usually starts a nice conversation, almost everyone likes dogs. I will mention this is a fairly common practice where I live, maybe it’s weird in other places.
Waiting for someone to write in this thread that dog pictures are super trackable and completely make me change my tune lmao.
If I feel my face really has to be in it, I will find a photo where my face is partially covered and edit it so much so that people will know it’s me by a particular facial feature but it won’t be so clear to a random lurker what I actually look like. I usually adjust contrast and make the photo grainy to achieve this. It probably makes me look pretentious haha.
Oh - and for both instances, I make sure to strip the EXIF data before uploading the picture. Not sure how important it is, but better safe than sorry.
Anything for my online persona will usually be fairly random. This is an excellent topic and I look forward to more responses.
The only social media site I’m still “using” is LinkedIn and there I have a real picture of myself for obvious reasons. Same goes for GitHub as my GitHub account is already associated with my LinkedIn anyway.
For things like Signal where I want to be easily recognizable by friends and family I just make sure to stick to a picture of something that I don’t change often. This can be a picture of an animal or whatever.
I am concerned about the generation of an AI avatar based on a real picture of myself because I can’t be sure what the service where I upload my picture does with it. Now, if there is an AI solution that doesn’t require a beefy GPU and can be run locally then I’d have no issue with that.
The same as @reformed_sandpaper - still “using” LinkedIn with the real picture. But I ran it through the image cloaking (https://sandlab.cs.uchicago.edu/fawkes/) just in case.
I do not have any known social media avatars that are real pics.
Would not be surprised we don’t have an app that compares the likeness of two pictures. More so how much do I look like Jean-Claude Van Damme!
Throw a real pic in an app and compare it to a filtered modified picture to give a certain percentage below a threshold that would be useful for those with bad intent.
I have used a picture of a famous actor whom I have been accused to look similar to as a joke on Signal.
One thing you can try is to get a profile picture from thispersondoesnotexist : at least you’ll have a human looking face in your avatar, no one will recognize you in the street and you won’t have to create an account and spend time to try to generate a human face from OpenAI or similar options where usually you are limited with the number of generations you can request per month unless you pay a premium account.
Also one other good thing is that if you don’t want to have a human looking face as your avatar you can use the same concept to be a horse or a cat or a chair or whatever which does not exist : https://thisxdoesnotexist.com
I’m sure you’ll find plenty of ideas for you and people won’t think «I’m pretty sure this account is a bot». Or you can be like me : a super serious username, a hyper realistic totally normal healthy looking skin face and a big smile for people to think I’m actually their friend.
Images from This Person Does Not Exist are easy to spot as the eyes are always in about the same place. There’s a negative connotation attached because scammers often use pictures from there.
you’re totally right but I guess on a tiny avatar size it may well do the trick no ?
There’s also ethical concerns as model used for generation was trained on images of real people. IIRC theres been cases where the generated image was almost identical to a real picture of a person found online.
I think the other suggestions mentioned in this thread are better — e.g. a picture of a pet.
Hi, thank you so much for your input.
I really like the idea of a pet picture, though it doesn’t work for me for obvious reasons.
However, I think your second suggestion of using a heavily edited picture is probably the most suitable solution for me out of all the ones suggested here so far. It is obviously more work than outsourcing the whole job to an AI solution, but considering nobody seems to have experience of privacy friendly AI solutions, this might be the best we’ve got.
You’re very welcome, glad I could be of some help!
Yeah, especially if you want yourself to be vaguely recognisable, I have found few other solutions that are as effective. I will say my threat model isn’t very high, I just want to limit the data companies collect on me.
I recommend using Fawkes, the link ambrosio posted in order to cloak the photograph as well.
My profile picture is a picture of a character from a show that I really like.
Just use an anime girl like the rest of the internet
twerking amogus from any image search engine
not much PII there