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Facebook Facial Recognition Tech Reaches 'Human-Level Performance'

by Fox Van Allen on February 09, 2015

Facial recognition scan of a bald businessman's faceIf you’re the type to care about your privacy while using the Internet – or just while walking down the street – then you’re likely a bit unsettled by facial recognition technology. When your picture is uploaded to Facebook without your knowledge, the social network is smart enough to figure out that it belongs to you. Apply facial recognition to tech like Google Glass, and a complete stranger could be able to identify you and access a complete dossier of information about you in an instant. This isn’t science fiction. The technology is here, it’s ready and – according to a new report from Sophos Naked Security – it’s really good at what it does.

Case in point: Facebook is currently developing a new facial recognition technology called DeepFace. Give the computer just two pictures of a person’s face, and it can tell if the pictures are of the same person with 97.35% accuracy. Facebook says its tech is “closely approaching human-level performance,” and is independent of the angle the person is facing or background lighting conditions in the photos.

Facebook plans on using the advanced facial recognition technology to better identify you in pictures that others upload to the social network. If Facebook detects that a friend has indeed shared a picture that includes you on their timeline, you’ll receive an email to let you know. You’ll then have the option to tag yourself in the picture or blur yourself in the image to maintain your privacy.

There’s no word on when DeepFace will launch on Facebook. But the social network does currently employ a different type of facial recognition technology to ID you in photos others upload, which it has used off and on since 2010. If you’d like to stop this automated identification from happening, enter your Facebook Settings and choose Timeline and Tagging. Under “How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions,” you’ll find an option named “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?” Change this setting to “No one,” and Facebook will respect your privacy. (At least as well as all-knowing, big-data behemoth like Facebook can.)

Want to learn more about facial recognition and other Facebook privacy issues? Read up on how the FBI is building a growing facial recognition database that includes millions of Americans. Then check out our comprehensive guide on Facebook privacy with plenty more tips on how to control who gets access to your photos, status updates and other personal information.

[Facial recognition via Shutterstock]


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