ISIS Supporter Shares Video On Rocket.Chat Demonstrating Abilities Of Facial Recognition Software

March 31, 2020

On March 20, 2020, an Islamic State (ISIS) supporter on the Rocket.chat platform shared on multiple channels a short video allegedly showing the abilities of facial recognition software, which the video implies is able to recognize a face even it is being covered or blurred. [1]

The author of the post wrote: "Some friends sent me this video. Have you ever watched it?"

The video begins with a man – who is wearing a face covering, and whose eyes are blurred – reading a statement. In the top right-hand corner, there is a small box in it that shows a masked individual portraying a hacker using the facial recognition software. As the video goes on, it shows how the technology maps out the features of the man's face, slowly revealing the features of the face behind the blurred footage.

Facial recognition software is used by intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies to identify jihadis who seek to mask their identities. Following the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines, British media reported about the use and limitations of facial recognition software in identifying the ISIS fighter who had murdered them.[2] Similarly a 2016 article focused on the use of facial recognition software to identify another ISIS fighter from the UK as well as an English speaking child who had featured in an ISIS video.[3]

Facial recognition technology – if obtained – may also be useful to jihadis, who, as can be seen in the post on Rocket.chat, have developed an interest in it.

On March 26, in a discussion about this video on Rocket.chat,[4] a jihadi argued that there is no such software available to the public and that the maker of the video used Photoshop to create images of an unmasked face in order to spread fear among jihadis.

Images from the video can be seen below.


[1] Rocket.Chat, March 20, 2020.

[2] Sky News, September 18, 2014.

[3] The Guardian, January 4, 2016.

[4] Rocket.Chat, March 26, 2020.

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