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Facebook expands its use of facial recognition technology

20 December 2017

These new features are powered by the same face-recognition technology Facebook uses to suggest friends you might want to tag in photos and videos. When you review the image that's been flagged, you'll be able to tag yourself in it, leave yourself untagged, or just contact the person who uploaded it.

Rob Sherman, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer, wrote about the positive potentials - unlocking phones, logging into bank accounts, making digital payments, organizing photos, finding missing or kidnapped children and helping officials confirm passport photos - and the bad - abuse by law enforcement, potential for racial bias and Big Brother-esque government surveillance. Finally, the company is also going to use facial recognition to describe pictures to the visually impaired; someone looking at a photo using a screen-reader can hear which of their friends are in the picture by name. For the time being, those settings are the only means to tinker with facial recognition, with folks being asked to grant Facebook permission to use facial recognition across the service.

Have you ever wondered how many photos of you are floating around Facebook without your knowledge?

Both features will be turned on-or-off via a single toggle in Facebook's settings, Candela said. Facebook still respects the privacy settings of people posting photos, so you won't get a notification for photos when you're not in the audience.

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Are you anxious about frenemies posting unflattering images of you on Facebook?

The social media giant will soon roll out "optional tools to help people better manage their identity on Facebook using face recognition", according to a blog post by Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, its Director of Applied Machine Learning. The new system adds to that, identifying who specifically is in the image, even if they've not been manually tagged first. The site will now recognize new accounts made by people you have blocked and prevent the new account from sending you friend requests or messages. Apple replaced its fingerprint reader with a facial recognition camera to unlock its latest iPhone, and also uses facial recognition to sort photos.

Facebook says the feature is rolling out now, except in Canada and the EU.

The new settings will appear on Facebook platforms everywhere, with the exception of Canada and the European Union, where the company doesn't offer facial recognition.

Facebook expands its use of facial recognition technology