Facebook’s News Feature: Facial Recognition

The words “face recognition” can make some people feel uneasy, conjuring dystopian scenes from science fiction. Can someone use it to identify strangers on the street? Are institutions gathering mass databases of images that can be used to invade someone’s privacy or rights?

As government and non-government agencies, companies and others use face recognition technology in new ways, people want to understand how their privacy is being protected and what choices they have over how this technology is used.

This week Facebook announced their new, optional tools to help people better manage their identity on Facebook using face recognition. Powered by the same technology we’ve used to suggest friends you may want to tag in photos or videos, these new features help you find photos that you’re not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture. We’re also introducing a way for people who are visually impaired to know more about who is in the photos they encounter on Facebook.

Our technology analyzes the pixels in photos you’re already tagged in and generates a string of numbers we call a template. When photos and videos are uploaded to our systems, we compare those images to the template.

To learn more about all of these features, visit the Help Center or your account settings.

How to turn off Facebook’s creepy new facial recognition feature

Facebook is tearing down another wall this week as the company has revealed a new feature that will automatically let users know when they appear in a photo or video… even if they weren’t actually tagged in the first place.

While there are benefits to the new tool — seeing potentially problematic photos before they spread, being alerted when someone else attempts to use a photo of you as their own profile photo, or simply not missing memories of fun events — some Facebook users are undoubtedly going to be uncomfortable with Facebook taking this matter into its own hands. We’re all aware that Facebook knows more about us than we’d like, but this might be a step too far.

Furthermore, as The Verge points out, harassers and bullies could potentially take advantage of this new notification tool by uploading embarrassing photos or videos which would then automatically be shown to the target. The good news is that you can turn the feature off altogether with one simple setting.

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