On Tuesday, a Twitter user and YouTuber who goes by @elainebabey, tweeted a photo of her attempting to get her passport and the computer system clearly wouldn’t green light her photo. She wrote in her tweet, “British passport system violated man. Said my mouth is open the digital system can’t process my [sic] these lips.”
In the photo she tweeted, the computer system has a picture of @Elainebabey with her lips closed. However, to the side of the photo the system reads, “Your photo doesn’t meet all the rules and is unlikely to be suitable for a new passport.”
The reason why the photo wasn’t acceptable included, “It looks like your mouth is open.” A list of suggestions below read, “Sometimes this is caused by facial hair or shadows near your mouth. Try different lighting. You can still submit your photo if you believe it should be accepted (for example there’s a medical reason why your mouth appears to be open).”
Clearly Black features, like full lips, aren’t up to the passport technology’s standards.
Soon, @elainebabey’s photo started spreading across Twitter with people slamming the technology that doesn’t take Black people into account.
“This is [a] perfect exemple [sic] of how algorithmic facial recognition softwares are programmed to be racist,” wrote one Twitter user.
“This is what happens when engineers building these tools have 0 representation of someone who looks like you,” tweeted another person.
Her post later became a venting spot for Black people who’ve also experienced a discriminatory passport process.
One user said her passport machine “said the background was black” when “it was my afro.”
The racist facial recognition software, bogus passport technology, and intrusive TSA won’t go easy on you if you’re famous either. Just last year, megastar Diana Ross talked about how she was “treated like sh*t” by the TSA.
“Its not what was done but how , I am feeling violated,” Ross said in a series of tweets. “I still feel her hands between my legs , front and back ( saying to me it her job) WOW!! really mixed emotions I always like to see the good things but not feeling good right now.”
Technology and personnel definitely needs to do better.