Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does the Boogaloo Bias facial recognition system collect my data?
A: No. Data privacy is important to us, so we designed our system in a way that does not record, collect, or store any images, data, or information.
Q: Why did you choose the Boogaloo Bois and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo as subjects in this project?
A: We chose them for a few reasons. This project focuses on how law enforcement uses facial recognition, specifically the practice sometimes referred to as ‘brute forcing.’ As an anti-law enforcement militia, the Boogaloo Bois are a clear threat to law enforcement, and are certainly being surveilled. Boogaloo Bois are also a product of internet meme culture. Because the group is named after a movie, the 1984 film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, this provided us with an opportunity to illustrate the law enforcement practice of brute forcing facial recognition using celebrity images in a way that we hope communicates the absurdity of the practice.
Q: What is brute forcing facial recognition?
A: When law enforcement agents do not have any high-quality images of a suspect, they sometimes substitute artist sketches, social media photos with filters, computer composite images, or images of celebrities reported to resemble the suspect. Police refer to these as “probe photos.” We adopted the term brute forcing from a Vice article on the topic.
Q: Does brute forcing facial recognition actually work?
A: There are documented instances of this approach having worked. For example, in April of 2017, the NYPD substituted a photo of actor Woody Harrelson to catch a man suspected of stealing beer from CVS and an image of a New York Knicks player to find a man wanted for assault in Brooklyn. That being said, the use of images of anyone other than the specific person being sought is likely to result in many erroneous leads. In fact, even a successful match with a guilty suspect could be considered a “false positive” since the face being recognized does not belong to the person in the photo.
Q: Is brute forcing facial recognition legal?
A: In most municipalities in the United States, there are no regulations regarding the use of facial recognition systems.
Q: Does brute forcing facial recognition produce a high number of false positives?
A: Yes, but this is also the reason that law enforcement uses it. In the absence of good leads, brute forcing increases the likelihood of finding someone to arrest. Determining if someone is, in fact, guilty is the job of the criminal justice system, however, defense attorneys aren’t told when their defendants were matched to celebrity doppelgängers.
Q: I’ve heard there are sometimes problems with datasets not being diverse enough, is this a problem with Boogaloo Bias?
A: Our training corpus and suspect pool comes from the 1984 film Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, which features a cast that is more inclusive than many facial recognition systems. While the number of false positives can be reduced by creating a more diverse dataset, effective surveillance apparatuses have historically been used to track, target, and neutralize marginalized people and political dissidents. Our position is that a diverse and inclusive surveillance dataset is likely to negatively impact communities that are targeted by law enforcement.
Q: I’ve heard that all Boogaloo Bois are white nationalists or right wing extremists, is that true?
A: Artists are in a position of power when they represent a group, especially one that they are not a part of, and they therefore have a responsibility to not portray them inaccurately. We have never met any Boogaloo Bois in person or online, so we don’t have any first-hand information. Some news reports portray all Boogaloos as right wing or racist. Boogaloos have claimed that they are being misrepresented by the media. We have seen stories and videos of Boogaloos that demonstrate that some of them are opposed to white supremacy and supportive of Black Lives Matter and LGBTQIA+ equality. However, there also seems to have been some attempts by far right groups to co-opt the Boogaloo movement. To the best of our knowledge, the Boogaloo Bois do not adhere to a cohesive right or left wing political ideology aside from being proponents of gun rights. Please see our Resources page for more information. We are always looking for more videos and articles on the topic, so please feel free to Contact us if you have information.
Have a question you would like to ask? Contact us.