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Did a Facial Recognition Software Company Identify Antifa Members at the Capitol?
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Did a Facial Recognition Software Company Identify Antifa Members at the Capitol?


A viral article from the Washington Times claimed that a facial recognition software company called XRVision “used its software to do facial recognition of protesters and matched two Philadelphia Antifa members to two men inside the Senate.” The article cites “a retired military officer” as its source of information. Several politicians, includingRep. Matt Gaetz and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, referenced this article while claiming that Antifa was behind the attack on Congress Wednesday.

The conspiracy has clear parallels to another conspiracy that identified two men as Antifa members—fact checked on January 6—citing some of the same “evidence.” The Washington Times article claimed “One has a tattoo that indicates he is a Stalinist sympathizer.” The already-debunked conspiracy claimed that one man was part of Philly Antifa and had a Communist hammer and sickle—the man was misidentified and his tattoo was a video game symbol. The Washington Times article also claims that “XRVision also has identified another man who, while not known to have Antifa links, is someone who shows up at climate and Black Lives Matter protests in the West.” The already-debunked conspiracy claimed that one rioter has been seen at a BLM protest in Arizona—he was actually a prominent QAnon and Trump supporter who was seen regularly at right-wing rallies in Arizona.  

But beyond that, it appears XRVision never actually identified Antifa members at the riot: The company’s attorney issued a statement to BuzzFeed decrying the Washington Times article as “outright false, misleading, and defamatory.” While the attorney admitted XRVision had performed facial analysis for “private consumption and not for publication,” he claimed that the analysis identified two members of neo-Nazi organizations and said that he reached out to the Washington Times to demand a retraction and apology. Some questions have been raised about XRVision’s analysis, as the company has not gone through a testing procedure commonly used by biometric companies. Their identification of one neo-Nazi at the rally may be in error, as both individuals have tattoos on their right hands that do not appear to match.

Facial recognition software did not identify two Antifa members at the storming of Congress, and there remains no evidence that Antifa was behind the event. 

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Alec Dent is a former culture editor and staff writer for The Dispatch.