Facebook expands use of facial recognition technology

Joanna Estrada
December 19, 2017

He said if Facebook's system did not have high confidence in its identification of someone in a photo, it would leave them untagged.

An additional feature will also inform users if anyone across the entire social network tries to post a profile picture containing them, Joaquin Candela, Facebook's director of applied machine learning, said in the blog. The company is taking the same facial recognition technology that it uses to create "tag suggestions" in which its algorithms recognize users' faces in pictures and suggest that they be tagged.

Facebook will let you know when someone posts a photo of you - even if you aren't tagged in it - becoming the latest tech giant to add more facial recognition technology to users' everyday lives. Now Facebook's machine vision-powered feature that describes what's in a photo will also read aloud the names of untagged friends.

The setting is optional and tied into your current use of the site's facial recognition software, which suggests friends to tag in your photos - if you've got that feature turned on, then you would get these new alerts unless you explicitly opt out. Those in the European Union and Canada, meanwhile, don't even get the choice to begin with, as Facebook doesn't offer its face recognition technology due to data sharing and privacy legislation.

There will also be a new on/off switch for all facial recognition features on Facebook. Whether it's an unauthorizied photo of you that you want taken off Facebook, an embarassing pic you don't want tagged but want to monitor comments on, or someone trying to pretend to be you, Photo Review gives people more visibility into how their likeness is used.

Facebook wants to make sure you know about and control the photos of you people upload, even if they don't tag you.

Facebook is also using the feature to assist the vision impaired. That includes the United States but not Canada and Europe, where regulators have raised concerns about Facebook's existing facial recognition features and how the company complies with privacy laws.

The same technology is also being used for a new tool that supports people with visual impairments.

The new features are being rolled out in the face of growing pressure on the company from regulators in Europe, the US and elsewhere who have criticized Facebook for spreading fake news, fostering hate speech, eroding civil discourse and trampling privacy rights.

While now able to identify most users in head-on photos, the technology won't recognize people whose faces are obscured, in shadow or at unusual angles.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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