Facebook Testing Face Detection in Photos

Social networking giant Facebook has begun testing face-detection technology on photo uploads, aiming to make it easier for Facebook users to tag their photos and identify subjects. According to Facebook, Facebook spend most of their time in photos browsing, tagging, and uploading images: Facebook wants to use face-recognition technology to make that process less tedious by automatically identifying folks appearing in photos uploaded to the service. Facebook is currently running a limited test of the technology, but if things work out, the company plans to roll it out as a general feature

“Ninety-nine percent of people using Facebook have uploaded at least one photo. More than 100 million photos are uploaded every day. That’s insane,” wrote Facebook’s Sam Odio, who came to the company a couple months ago when Facebook acquired DivvyShot. Odio says the new feature enables users to “add tags with just a couple of clicks directly from your home page and other sections of the site, using the same face detection technology that cameras have used for years.”

The new feature automatically detects and selects faces appearing in photographs, so users don’t have to pick them out of images themselves. In theory, all users will have to do is type in the subject’s name to tag a photo. The technology represents a significant usability improvement on Facebook’s current tagging system, which requires users upload photo, select each subject’s face, and individually tag subjects. The face detection technology handles the selection aspect, and recognizes repeated subjects so users don’t have to continuously tag the same people over and over again.

Of course, the face recognition technology may also have implications for Facebook’s already-battered stance on privacy, particularly if the system mis-identifies people or if attackers abuse the system to cause photo subjects to be tagged incorrectly. Facebook hasn’t said how face detection data is being stored—for instance, whether it’s global or on an account-by-account basis—or how it’s privacy policies apply to publicly sharing images of people who may not have consented to have their images—and now their names—published.

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