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Debunking the Three Biggest Myths About Clearview AI

By Clearview AI BLOG

In an era where digital technology and AI advancements continue to redefine the boundaries of personal privacy and surveillance, one tech player has been the center of the debate: Clearview AI. Clearview AI is a facial recognition technology provider primarily for law enforcement agencies and government agencies, and its existence has spurred a number of misconceptions. Today, we debunk the three most common myths associated with Clearview AI.


A prevalent misapprehension is that Clearview AI acts as a real-time surveillance tool. The reality, however, is markedly different.

Fact: Clearview AI Is Used Strictly for "After the Crime" Investigations

Clearview AI is not designed to provide live surveillance. Instead, its primary use case is for law enforcement to identify potential suspects or victims after an incident has occurred. When a crime is committed, authorities can use images from the scene and compare them with the Clearview AI database to find potential leads. The technology is reactive, not proactive, and is not utilized for real-time tracking or surveillance.


The second common myth suggests that Clearview AI has access to and searches through personal or private data, such as information on your camera roll, your private messages, or on private social media accounts.

Fact: Clearview AI Is Only Searching Publicly Available Data from the Internet

Clearview AI does not have the capability to access your private data. The company's algorithm is designed to only search through publicly available images on the internet. When Clearview AI “scrapes” data, it is collecting information that any internet user could technically access. It does not include any content that would require a password or special access to view, such as private social media accounts or secure databases.


The third myth revolves around the concept of inaccuracy and racial bias within facial recognition algorithms, a genuine concern given the history of algorithmic bias in AI systems. There is no perfect facial recognition algorithm or system, however Clearview AI has achieved very high accuracy when compared to the average human eye.

Fact: Clearview AI Is Rated Highly by NIST

Clearview AI has indeed been rated highly by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the U.S Department of Commerce. The NIST Face Recognition Vendor Test ("FRVT") is the world’s most comprehensive test for facial recognition, testing over 500 different algorithms worldwide across many categories of photos such as mugshot photos, VISA photos, border photos and the most difficult type: WILD photos. The test also has a demographic subtest, and the NIST FRVT 1:N test measures how accurately an algorithm can find a photo out of a lineup of millions of photos.

In the NIST 1:1 Face Recognition Vendor Test ("FRVT") that evaluates demographic accuracy, Clearview AI’s algorithm consistently achieved greater than 99 percent accuracy across all demographics.

In the NIST 1:N Face Recognition Vendor Test ("FRVT"), Clearview AI's algorithm correctly matched the correct face out of a lineup of 12 million photos at an accuracy rate of 99.85 percent, which is much more accurate than the human eye.

According to the Innocence Project, 70% of wrongful convictions result from eyewitness lineups. Accurate facial recognition technology like Clearview AI is able to help create a safer society with less bias.

This rating indicates that Clearview AI performs with a high degree of accuracy and is less likely to exhibit bias in its identification process compared to other systems. However, it is important to clarify that the lack of bias in Clearview AI does not mean that the problem of racial bias in AI systems has been completely resolved. It remains a significant issue in the AI industry that requires ongoing attention and solutions.

For more detailed information, you can read our highly comprehensive article on the matter titled: The Myth of Facial Recognition Bias.


Clearview AI has been subject to numerous misunderstandings and misinformation. By debunking these three major myths, we can gain a clearer understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the company's facial recognition technology.

In conclusion, while there are valid concerns and debates surrounding the use of facial recognition technology, it is crucial to separate fact from fiction when discussing Clearview AI. It is not a tool for real-time surveillance, does not access private data, and performs with a high degree of accuracy according to NIST ratings. As the conversation on privacy, AI ethics, and technology regulation continues, staying informed and understanding the nuances of these technologies is vital for everyone.