The Israeli military’s “Cyber War Room” used the technology for identification purposes.
The Israeli military has used Amazon’s facial recognition system to identify at least 60 missing people using videos and images scraped from various social media platforms such as TikTok and Facebook.
The project is being used to help identify missing and dead people after the Hamas attack on Israel.
Hamas launched deadly terrorist attacks on Israel earlier this month, resulting in about 1,300 deaths and hundreds of missing people. A group of cyber experts started a volunteer project for the purpose of identifying the missing individuals. They wrote code that scraped TikTok, Twitter, Telegram and other social media platforms to gather video and images of the attack.
The group then used the facial recognition algorithm from Amazon, called Rekognition, and compared the images and video they’d collected with a database of images provided by families of the missing as well as by official Israel government sources.
The group used the facial recognition to identify about 60 people in a span of about two weeks.
The project was led by Refael Franco, former deputy director of the National Cyber Directorate of the Israeli Government. Beyond identifying 60 missing people, it also provided fresh leads regarding the status and location of five other missing people. By the time of the writing of this article, the identifications hadn’t yet led to a rescue, but its results are adequately promising that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have taken it over and incorporated it into its rescue operations.
Franco is now a co-founder of the Code Blue Cyber security startup. In a Forbes interview, Franco said that the project became the responsibility of the Israeli government because it had accumulated “a lot of sensitive data that you don’t want to share with civilians. The IDF has stated that there are as many as 200 Israelis who are known to have been kidnapped by Hamas or who are otherwise missing following the attacks.
According to Franco, his AI specialists and cybersecurity and intelligence analyst team of volunteers began with a map of spots where they felt Hamas was operating based on what they saw in a video Hamas made of the Israeli captives. They worked in what they referred to as a “cyber war room”, using the facial recognition technology with social media accounts associated with the identified locations around Gaza.