A user’s TikTok video has gone viral after showcasing Walmart’s security system, alarming viewers on the platform.
Last year, a user went viral after claiming that Walmart’s security system was so high quality and omnipresent that it could see everything customers were doing, including what they were reading on their phones.
Now, another user has sparked discussion after showing the store’s high-end security system in practice.
In a video with over 5.9 million views as of Friday, TikTok user Aubrey (@tht.slowsubi) shows a security camera feed.
“Y’all better watch out,” Aubrey writes in the text overlaying the video. “Walmart isn’t playing anymore.”
@tht.slowsubi I’m done now I promise 🤣 #walmart #bargainshopping #buyonegetonefree #fypシ #fyp ♬ Oblivion – Grimes
In 2021, The Verge reported that Walmart had employed facial recognition software and a special AI to detect unscanned items in the self-checkout lane.
As of 2019, this AI detection software is used in over 1,000 stores, per Insider.
“The cameras track and analyze activities at both self-checkout registers and those manned by Walmart cashiers,” writes author Hayley Peterson. “When a potential issue arises, such as an item moving past a checkout scanner without getting scanned, the technology notifies checkout attendants so they can intervene.”
Aubrey later posted a follow-up explaining the system. She claims the cameras are able to track customers around the store and scan “any items that you pick up.”
“I worked at a grocery store in 2016 and those cameras were able to detect unscanned items going out the door,” Aubrey claims. “Just so you guys know, Walmart does that, too.”
@tht.slowsubi Replying to @iamkkate #walmart #DanceWithTurboTax #fypシ #spyballoon #fyp ♬ original sound –
In this video, she claims that Walmart may wait to prosecute someone for shoplifting until they’ve stolen an amount that would give them a felony for the crime.
It’s unclear if this is actually true, as this claim has been repeated about stores like Target and other retailers.
That said, many were quick to share their thoughts about being subject to such pervasive surveillance technology.
“Looks like I’m shopping with a face mask and sun glasses,” a user wrote.
“They do everything but hire cashiers!” exclaimed a second.
“They got all this but still don’t take apple pay ??!??!!!” a third questioned.
We’ve reached out to Walmart via its media relations contact form and Aubrey via Instagram and TikTok direct message.
Update 2:46pm CT February 23: In an Instagram DM exchange with the Daily Dot, Aubrey explained how she discovered the cameras in question.
“I was on vacation at Myrtle Beach Walmart, and whilst in self-checkout I looked up and noticed on a large TV screen that they were filming us,” she wrote. “That’s when I saw those crazy boxes and paths following people around the store. I knew they had an updated system, but not to that extent.”
“Honestly, I’m not surprised that Walmart security cameras have these kind of features,” she continued. “I was surprised to know that this particular Walmart in Myrtle Beach makes their customers be aware of how intricate the security systems actually are. Every Walmart is different and not all might have this security feature. I believe that this Walmart made it public knowledge to prevent loss. My intent on posting this video was to make people aware that just because we can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not real.”
“I also know, with the younger generation, stealing is more prevalent due to recent inflation and just all-around struggling, and I don’t want anybody to get in trouble if they can avoid it,” she detailed.
As for how Walmart can improve its services, Aubrey has some suggestions.
“I do believe if Walmart opened its doors 24 hours a day again they could create more jobs so people are able to make money in these trying times,” she explained. “There would be more staff to prevent these things from happening, and Walmart loss preventions would take a significantly softer blow if they stopped relying on cameras and technology instead of hiring real people. They are one of the biggest companies in the USA, and have the capabilities to fix a lot of their own issues.”