Facebook's Facial Recognition Algorithms Have Just Reached a New Level

Allan Goodman
December 22, 2017

We're doing this to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook.

This way, upon receiving a notification that they appeared in someone's photos on Facebook, users can either tag themselves in the photos or ask the respective person to take them down.

In a Facebook "newsroom" post entitled "Hard Questions: Should I Be Afraid of Face Recognition Technology", Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman compares the new tech to Kodak cameras in 1888.

In other words, Facebook users might still appear in other users' photos and not be aware of it, depending on the audience limitations and whether or not the people are friends on Facebook. You can also make choices such as whether to tag yourself, leave yourself untagged, or reach out to the person who has posted the photo or report it to Facebook. If the person in the photo is not in the uploader's audience for that post, they will not get any notifications.

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Now, if you're in a photo and are part of the audience, Facebook will notify you, even if you aren't tagged.

For the low, low cost of free - insofar as "free" constitutes permission to access, store, and use your face - Facebook will add another layer of convenience to the largest data harvesting experiment in history.

With the congressional rollback of online privacy protections in March, there appear to be few impediments to deploying facial recognition systems in the US. Clearly, Facebook's preferences is for a minimal regulatory regime rather than the more extensive privacy protections that keep the company from offering facial recognition in Canada and the European Union.

The company said in a statement that it was making the feature optional to allow people to protect their privacy, but that it thought some people would want to be notified of pictures they might not otherwise know about. Since new facial recognition technology is now being added to devices and applications everywhere - Apple's iPhone X is the ideal example here - it comes as no great surprise that Facebook would be next to incorporate some kind of facial scanning in its own platform. "Without the template we cannot recognize you in photos".

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