The world of cryptocurrency has often been criticised for its myriad scams and schemes. However, one scheme has proven more worrying than others — a startup that offered crypto for eyeballs.
Worldcoin Crypto for Eyeballs
Reported by Buzzfeed News, a cryptocurrency company called Worldcoin recently started offering crypto for eyeball data.
Representatives of the company would travel to multiple countries across Africa to collect data. Using a device known as “The Orb”, African citizens were asked for scan their eyes in order to receive $20 of cryptocurrency and a T-shirt.
In a terrifying, dystopian-esque move, citizens would line up in front of The Orb to be scanned. One citizen, a 32-year-old truck driver known as Kudzanayi explained that the mysterious orb would say “Face Detected” in a robotic voice before scanning their eyeballs.
Worldcoin has allegedly already captured and stored almost a half million eyeball scans, mostly across Africa. However, there’s just one thing missing from its Crypto for Eyeballs push: there is no cryptocurrency.
There’s no crypto in sight
Despite almost half a million citizens being scanned, Worldcoin has reportedly not given out a single dollar of cryptocurrency. Additionally, the company has allegedly not even paid its data-harvesting representatives.
Worldcoin’s “Orb Operators” are said to be enraged at the company’s lack of support. Mass outrage has been attributed to late paychecks, late deliveries of Orbs, having to pay for their own T-shirts and not being helped after being detained by authorities.
Operator upset comes alongside user upset. Those who have given their data for Worldcoin’s crypto have not received anything in return, resulting in a horde of angry messages.
“You are thieves!” One user texted the company. “They robbed me of my money!”
As it turns out, the Worldcoin cryptocurrency has not launched. However, it still has access to biometric data from hundreds of thousands of people.
Only numbers matter
Orb operators upset with the crypto for eyeballs program explained that Worldcoin is only interested in numbers. Despite not fulfilling on its promise, Worldcoin only cares about how many eye captures an operator can get.
“They don’t care what’s going to happen to you as an individual,” an operator told Buzzfeed. “What they care about is what’s happening to their numbers, what’s happening to their Orbs.”
Worldcoin’s orb operators are expected to get biometric data through any means necessary, including just telling people “it’s free money”. Of course, it’s not free money; at the moment it’s not even money.
Of course, the ethical quandaries of asking people to sell biometric data are plentiful. However, selling it for a currency that doesn’t exist is even more sketchy.
Additionally, many are concerned about the privacy of Worldcoin’s data and what they plan to do with it. For example, controversial facial recognition database Clearview is known to sell data to governments and billionaires. Will Worldcoin do the same?