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What Privacy? Elon Musk, X want your fingerprint, facial scans to ensure you’re human, updates policy

Elon Musk’s recent effort to transform Twitter into an all-encompassing platform akin to China’s WeChat has led the app into a concerning realm of data collection practices.

This week, the company has altered its privacy policy, introducing new sections about “Biometric Information” and “Job Applications/Recommendations.”

Vague demands
X claims it may gather users’ biometric ID “with their consent” for safety, security, and identification purposes. However, the platform remains notably vague about the biometric data it intends to collect. Twitter has not provided any responses to inquiries from Gizmodo seeking clarification on this matter.

X’s recent actions are likely part of their strategy to introduce additional verification layers on top of their $8 blue checkmark subscription. Recently, Twitter has been experimenting with user verification through government IDs.

As a mobile app researcher outlined, the verification consent form also included an agreement for Twitter to retain users’ biometric data for “up to 30 days.” This ID verification process involved a live selfie and a facial scan transmitted to a third-party company.

Social media companies and their demand for biometric data
Twitter isn’t the sole company requiring biometric data in exchange for verification. Meta’s Instagram, for instance, implemented a selfie-based age verification system for its U.K.-based users last year.

Facebook and Instagram have blue checkmark verification systems that require users to provide Meta with a government ID and pay for enhanced impersonation protection.

X also wants your employment history.
X also seeks to collect users’ employment history, educational background, and job search history to offer job recommendations. Alternatively, the platform states that it will share this information with the prospective employers to whom users apply.

Whether X will share users’ posting history or additional information with potential employers remains uncertain, but Musk seems to envision Twitter as the next LinkedIn.

Most individuals or employers typically don’t consider X as their primary source for identifying qualified candidates. However, Musk believes that job seekers will be willing to divulge more personal data to help transform X into Musk’s envisioned all-encompassing app. The billionaire is already exploring the integration of stock trading features into his microblogging app. At the same time, CEO Linda Yaccarino has discussed the possibility of adding payment services and other somewhat incongruous ideas to Twitter.

While Musk is making significant changes to what defined X, back then, Twitter in its earlier days, he has faced challenges in building a functional paid verification system to replace the old, free blue checkmark system for public figures.

Although the prevalence of fake verified accounts has decreased in recent months, the blue checkmark has become associated with Musk’s supporters and, at times, detractors. Consequently, Musk has taken steps to prevent users from discerning whether a verified account is paid for and has allowed users to hide their checkmarks altogether.

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