Facebook Using Facial Recognition to Spot You in Untagged Photos

Facebook will now send an alert any time a photo of you is uploaded to the social network — even if you aren’t tagged in it.

The company has used facial recognition since 2010 to suggest who should be tagged in a photo. But now, it feels so confident it can identify your face, it’ll send you a notification when it spots you in any shot.

You’ll only be alerted to photos that allow this feature in its privacy settings.

The move is intended to prevent impersonation, a widespread issue on social media sites. In India, the company has tested a feature to fight the issue by blocking users from downloading profile pictures to pretend they are someone else.

“Our goal in building these features is really to empower people and help them manage their identity on Facebook,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, told CNN Tech.

But the latest tool raises privacy concerns.

“It’s right for consumers to be a little concerned about a company like Facebook using this technology,” John Breyault vice president at the National Consumer League told CNN Tech. “Hopefully, it’s an opportunity to have more conversations about what facial recognition means for consumers and what safeguards, if any, need to be put in place from a policy perspective.”

Breyault was among the privacy experts Facebook consulted before launching the feature. He recommended transparency about how facial recognition is being used and encouraged Facebook to give users a way to opt out.

Facebook members can message anyone who posts a photo of them and request for it to be taken down. The platform also has a tool that allows users to formally request for content to be removed. Facebook will take down photos that violate its community standards and local laws.

Related: 146,000 cameras monitor Moscow’s streets

The company told CNN Tech it would not use facial recognition to better target advertisements. However, it could used to help identify people in photos as part of its accessibility project, which audibly describes photos for people who are blind.

Facebook won’t be using facial recognition in Canada or Europe due to regulatory protections around personal data and privacy.

Facial recognition is becoming more popular in the U.S. Apple’s iPhone X relies on it to unlock the smartphone. Glasses retailer Warby Parker uses it to help match frames with customers’ faces.

Other merchants rely on facial recognition technology to identify when suspected shoplifters enter their stores.

Meanwhile, governments such as Russia are building out camera networks to better take advantage of facial recognition technology.

If facial recognition becomes a mainstream practice, companies and governments will have to weigh the concerns.

“Companies like Facebook are correct to tread lightly on facial recognition because of the sensitivity,” Breyault said. “Your face isn’t like a password you can change or a cookie that can be purged from your browser.”

Facebook also announced new tools on Tuesday to prevent unwanted contact on the platform, such as allowing users to ignore a Messenger conversation and move it out of one’s inbox.

8 comments

  • warningfakenews

    It’s all good, this way the government will have an easy way of coming after you when you say anything that they don’t particularly like.

  • What it be

    Fecesbook is pure evil it causes more harm then good for our youth and adult children not to mention all the deaths and accidents every day!

  • Me

    Has anyone else merely casually mentioned a topic in conversation (nothing texted or searched for) and have an ad appear of FaceBook a day or two later?

    • ElMa

      I deleted my FB account 2 years ago when I learned that my profile information, likes, shares, page subscriptions, friends list, etc., had been sold to a Cornell research team (among other entities). The goal of this research was to select random profiles and post FALSE “positive” articles on the news feeds of half of the profiles, and FALSE “negative” articles on the news feeds of the other half. Then, they tracked the “like” and “share” activity to compare how quickly the false information went viral. Of course, the negative information was spread far faster than the positive, but this was just one of the numerous entities that purchased FaceBook profile information.

      And, what are our kids doing, these days? They’re burying their faces in their smart phones, living out every stupid nuance of their lives on FB, and we have the NERVE to wonder why the LGBTQRSTAlphabetSoup movement has gained so much steam? Morals, ethics, and reality have all been manipulated through FB…….or, Sky Net……or…….

      • Think For Yourself

        Bingo! I have also deleted my Facebook account. I use a simple cellphone for emergencies only. I am at peace.

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