Facebook turns to face recognition

By on March 6, 2018

Christina Popik | The Quinnipiac Chronicle
We all know the “My FBI agent is watching me through my camera” meme that has taken over Twitter recently. But it may have to be changed to “my ‘FB’ agent is watching me through my pictures.”

Facebook announced that it was taking its facial recognition technology, created in 2013, to the next level by using the recognition for other reasons than tagging people in pictures. The recognition system will be used to, “find photos you’re in but haven’t been tagged [in], help protect you from strangers using your photo and tell people with visual impairments who’s in your photo or video,” according to a user-wide notification sent out by Facebook.

The statement ends with: “You control face recognition. This setting is on, but you can turn it off any time, which applies to features we may add later.” This message has made many users worried and has prompted many publications to publish articles solely based on how to turn off the setting.

What makes this announcement cryptic is the fact that this setting has been turned on for many users without their knowledge. Although Facebook spokesperson Rochelle Nadhiri states that the setting isn’t defaulted, many users are using the facial recognition setting based on their previous settings before the system was updated.

“The new setting respects people’s existing choices, so if you’ve already turned off tag suggestions then your new face recognition setting will be off by default,” Nadhiri said in an interview with Wired. “If your tag suggestions setting was set to ‘friends’ then your face recognition setting will be on.”

Facebook’s facial recognition isn’t the only method of surveillance they use to collect data from their users. The site also tracks your “likes” on the platform and how you use the site.

“We collect the content and other information you provide when you use or share services, including when you sign up for an account, create or share, and message or communicate with others,” Facebook stated in its privacy policy. “This can include information in or about the content you provide, such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created. We also collect information about how you use our Services, such as the types of content you view or engage with of the frequency and duration of your activities.”

Examples of this collection of data include if you watch a video concerning sports and then many other sports videos show up on your wall or if you like a page about “The Beauty and the Beast” and then many other pages related to “The Beauty and the Beast” pop up in your suggestions.

But the site doesn’t just collect this data, they sell it. Facebook takes data surveyed from users and then they sell it to advertisers as a way of giving users more relevant ads, according to Facebook.

“People also tell us they want more control over the ads they see,” Facebook Newsroom stated. “Starting soon in the US, we will also include information from some of the websites and apps you use. This is a type of interest-based advertising, and many companies already do this.”

The statement was followed up with information about how to opt out of the “ad preference” feature by using the Digital Advertising Alliance opt out. However, this feature is also another that Facebook has seemed to implement under the noses of users.

Many users have become worried about these new technological features that collect data.

“Yeah, Facebook is really scaring the heck out of me with the face recognition crap,” Twitter user @dianarchin tweeted.

Another shared their concerns.

“PSA: update your Facebook privacy settings to disable face recognition,” user @Boringstein tweeted.

This technology of facial recognition faced massive backlash after Apple released their iPhone X, which uses facial recognition to unlock the phone.

Apple introduced Face ID as a safer way to gain access to personal information stored on the phone.

“Face ID is a secure and private new way to unlock, authenticate, and pay,” Apple said in a statement on its website.

“The Face ID feature is the dumbest thing Apple ever come up with @Apple,” tweeted user @AnnaFlaviaaa.

If your facial recognition setting is turned on and you don’t want to take part in the facial surveying, go to Settings, then go to Face Recognition and click “no” after the question “Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos”.

As we advance into the realm of technology and the progress it will make in the future, facial recognition seems to be one of the most controversial trends. This being said, it shows no signs of coming to an end and seems that it will become heavily used in the years to come.

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About Charlotte Gardner

Arts and Life Editor