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Ukraine has hit upon a macabre ploy of using facial recognition software to identify the bodies of dead Russian soldiers and contact their mothers.
Ukraine’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists, has used the corpse identifications to tell the families of 582 Russians that their son has been killed in Putin‘s war.
Even up to sending the families photos of the abandoned and bloodied corpses of their sons.
The strategy is a ruthless effort to bring home the reality of Moscow’s ‘special operation’ to ordinary Russians who may not be getting an accurate picture of the war.
But military and tech analysts fear that the grim strategy may backfire, antagonising and inflaming the emotions of the very people whose hearts and minds they are supposed to be influencing.
Ukraine has hit upon a macabre ploy of using facial recognition software to identify the bodies of dead Russian soldiers and contact their mothers. Above: The mother holding portrait of her dead son
Ukraine’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists, has used the corpse identifications to tell the families of 582 Russians that their son has been killed in Putin’s war
The Ukrainians have been using face-scanning software from the U.S. tech firm Clearview AI, running more than 8,600 facial recognition searches on dead or captured Russian since the start of the war.
Stephanie Hare, a surveillance researcher in London, warned of the dangers of Western governments supporting the tactic.
‘Contacting soldiers’ parents is ”classic psychological warfare” but could set a dangerous new standard for future conflicts,’ she said.
‘If it were Russian soldiers doing this with Ukrainian mothers, we might say, ‘Oh, my God, that’s barbaric,” she said.
‘And is it actually working? Or is it making them say: ‘Look at what these lawless, cruel Ukrainians, doing this to our boys?”
Clearview AI’s chief executive, Hoan Ton-That, told The Washington Post that more than 340 officials across five Ukrainian government agencies now can use its tool to run facial recognition searches whenever they want, free of charge.
The company, Ton-That said, first offered its services last month to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense after he saw Russian propaganda claiming that soldiers captured there were actors or frauds.
Clearview AI’s chief executive, Hoan Ton-That (above), said that more than 340 officials across five Ukrainian government agencies now can use its tool to run facial recognition searches whenever they want, free of charge
Hoan Ton-That demonstrated the facial recognition software by using his own face to identify himself
One national security expert said said that Ukrainain treatment of captured Russian soldiers, such as holding news conferences with them and posting photos and videos of their faces have been seen inside Russia as a humiliation by the enemy.
The IT Army have posted videos to Telegram with snippets of they are are conversations with the dead Russian solders’ relatives that they have contacted.
In one chat, someone who was sent photos of a Russian soldier’s bloodied face responded, ‘It’s photoshop!!! THIS CAN’T BE.’
The sender wrote back, according to the footage: ‘This is what happens when you send people to war.’
In a second conversation, a Russian mother was sent a message telling her her son was dead, accompanied by a photo of a man’s body in the dirt, with face grimacing and mouth agape.
To prove their claim the sender sent another photo showing a gloved hand holding the man’s military documents.
‘Why are you doing this?’ the recipient wrote back. ‘Do you want me to die? I already don’t live. You must be enjoying this.’
The stranger responded that young men were already dying, by the thousands. This is ‘the only way to stop all this madness,’ the sender wrote. ‘How many more people must die?’
Beyond scanning corpses, Ukraine also is using facial recognition to identify Russian soldiers caught on camera looting Ukrainian homes and storefronts, an official with Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Ministry said.