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Facebook Facial Recognition: What They Plan To Do With Your Photo

facebook and facial recognitionFacial recognition is featured in nearly every crime show these days; just last night I was watching an episode of the new show The Blacklist, and the FBI agents identified a young woman from a photo in mere moments.

But facial recognition is actually far more difficult than Hollywood makes it look, particularly in police departments. Facebook might be looking to change that.

This week, NPR took an in depth look at Facebook’s facial recognition software on the heels of the news in August that Facebook is considering uploading all of our profile photos into a facial recognition database. Which is slightly terrifying, naturally, but something most of us probably agreed to when we checked “accept” on the Terms of Service for our Facebook page. But we’re still a long way from a database of everyone, right? Maybe not, according to NPR.

Theoretically, every time you label faces by tagging a picture, you’re chipping away at those two big challenges for universal facial recognition. First, you’re helping to build a super-database of labeled faces. Second, you’re uploading multiple versions of each person’s face, which can improve a system’s accuracy.

Yowza.

So, you probably got an email at the end of August with new Terms from Facebook, right? Well, that’s where they told us about the database, according to NBC.

Facebook is considering incorporating most of its 1 billion-plus members’ profile photos into its growing facial recognition database, expanding the scope of the social network’s controversial technology.

The possible move, which Facebook revealed in an update to its data use policy on Thursday, is intended to improve the performance of its “Tag Suggest” feature. The feature uses facial recognition technology to speed up the process of labeling or “tagging” friends and acquaintances who appear in photos posted on the network.

I have mixed feelings about this one. After all, there is already a massive digital database of most of us anyway at least those of us that have photo ID. But the photos we upload to Facebook are far more likely to help build a database of how we really look, with multiple images of each user.

What do you think? Is this a good plan, or yet another privacy violation by the world’s largest social media network? Oh, and you can always buy a t-shirt that is intended to confound Facebook…

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