Nov 16, 2021 by

By Jordan Tyldesley, The Critic:

The browser extension “Shinigami Eyes” colour codes names on the wrong side of history:

This week I had the audacity to suggest on Twitter that antisemitism remains a problem within some on the Left, and it led me down an extraordinary and terrifying rabbit-hole. Welcome to the online world of Shinigami Eyes.

I received a notification from one Twitter user alerting another to the fact that “Shinigami Eyes shows [me] as a transphobe”’ with a link to the webpage Confused, I clicked on the link and made a startling discovery. Shinigami Eyes is a browser add-on that highlights supposed “transphobic” and “trans-friendly” people, businesses and organisations. Unbeknownst to members of the public, users who enable this function are invited to colour code others in either red or green — red meaning “danger” and green meaning “safe”. The extension supports Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, Medium, Youtube, Wikipedia articles and search engine results. According to Google Chrome, it has over 40,000 current users, and the extension is also supported via Firefox and Android.

Essentially, this is a database of people who are being recorded for their views without their knowledge or consent. Shinigami Eyes uses a combination of user contributions and algorithms to decide your fate. Anyone who installs it can type your name into a search engine and form an opinion of you based on the colour you’ve been assigned. You have involuntarily joined a database which includes information about you for others to inspect.

According to the website, having “Shinigami Eyes” in manga/anime means “having the ability to see people’s names and remaining lifespan just by looking at them”. Similarly, this extension “allows you to see a person’s trans acceptance orientation just by looking at them”. The creator Lorelai Bailey (formerly known as Wesley) gives the reason for developing the extension as “distrust towards people” and bemoans the difficulties of “dealing with communities that tend to be moderately progressive […] such as the feminist community, the lesbian community and women’s associations”.

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