Facebook Rolls Out New Facial Recognition Software For Photos

Facebook has launched a new feature that will notify a person if a photo of them has been uploaded onto the site, even if it’s not tagged.

The technology makes use of a facial recognition technology that the social network has already been using to help you tag photos of users and their friends.

The new feature is optional but Facebook is pushing this as a new tool to help its users maintain more control over their identity on the site and in particular help crack down on the number of false accounts.

“We want people to feel confident when they post pictures of themselves on Facebook,” explains Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Director of applied machine learning at the company.

“So we’ll soon begin using face recognition technology to let people know when someone else uploads a photo of them as their profile picture.”

One of the clear benefits of a technology like this is those with visual impairments and as part of the update Facebook is also using its facial recognition to help describe pictures to those with vision loss.

Before diving into the specifics of how this technology works it should be noted that Facebook has confirmed the feature won’t be rolling out to either the EU or Canada due to localised privacy regulations. Yes, that does include the UK.

While the technology is being heralded by Facebook as a means of gaining more control over your own identity online there is much that’s still not know about how Facebook collects, processes and then uses the information it has on all of us.

In this example, the face recognition technology looks at each individual pixel and then creates a ‘template’ made up of numbers assigned to each pixel.

Facebook’s machine learning then scans through other images looking for a potential match. Once it reaches one with a high enough degree of accuracy it then informs the user.

If you are outside of the EU or Canada then don’t panic if this all sounds a bit too ‘Big Brother’. Facebook has updated its settings to make sure you can activate or deactivate the facial recognition feature at any point.