Creepy Face Recognition Firm Clearview AI Sure Has a Lot of Ties to the Far Right - 2020-04-08
Clearview AI, the dystopian face recognition company that claims to have amassed a database of billions of photos, signed contracts with hundreds of law enforcement agencies, and shopped its app around to the rich and powerful, has extensive links to the far right, according to a Huffington Post investigation. In fact, one of its associates claimed to have been working on a face recognition product explicitly designed to be useful for mass deportations.
Founder Hoan Ton-That's has links to the far-right movement that move right past suspicious into obvious, according to HuffPo. He reportedly attended a 2016 dinner with white supremacist Richard Spencer and organized by alt-right financier Jeff Giesea, an associate of Palantir founder and Trump-supporting billionaire Peter Thiel. (Thiel secretly bankrolled a lawsuit that bankrupted Gizmodo's former parent company, Gawker Media.) Ton-That was also a member of a Slack channel run by professional troll Chuck Johnson for his now-defunct WeSearchr, a crowdfunding platform primarily used by white supremacists; that channel included people like the webmaster of neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer, Andrew Auernheimer, and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich,
Per HuffPo, in January 2017 Johnson posted on Facebook that he was working on "building algorithms to ID all the illegal immigrants for the deportation squads." Another source told HuffPo that they had seen him bragging about that work to "a whole bunch of really important people" at Trump's DC hotel that spring, introducing them to a man the source identified as almost certainly being Ton-That.