Facebook expands its use of facial recognition technology

Getty Images for CNN

The feature builds on technology Facebook already uses to suggest tags or labels for people in photos users post.

When you are notified, you then have the choice to add your tag to the photo, leave yourself untagged, or report the photo as inappropriate. "We're doing this to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook".

Facebook's facial recognition works by analyzing the pixels in a photo you're tagged in and creating a string of numbers called a template to identify your face.

Facebook is tearing down another wall this week as the company has revealed a new feature that will automatically let users know when they appear in a photo or video... even if they weren't actually tagged in the first place. If you're not in that audience, you won't be notified.

This would allow Facebook to implement more features that use facial recognition, such as account recovery, though that remains to be seen.

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.


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 is also introducing a feature that will help people with visual impairments; the company says that with the aforementioned facial recognition technology, people who use screen readers will know who appears in a photo in their News Feed even if people aren't tagged. "We listen carefully to feedback from people who use Facebook, as well as from experts in the field", Sherman wrote. It's harder if the possible pool is more than a billion people, a.k.a. Facebook's entire user base.

The facial recognition technology could help combat some abusive conduct on the network, the company said, although it may also raise additional privacy concerns.

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.

Facebook will also allow users to ignore a conversation in Messenger and move it out of your inbox without having to block the sender.

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