Privacy Concerns Over Facebook’s New Facial Recognition Algorithm

Privacy Concerns Over Facebook's New Facial Recognition Algorithm

Last month Facebook announced a set of new facial recognition algorithms that can help the site more effectively track a user’s face across the platform. Prior to this change, Facebook’s algorithm was primarily designed to work based on the tagging activity of other people. The new algorithm is provided as an option within the account settings and when enabled it lets you receive notifications whenever someone else uploads a picture containing your face. Representatives and advocates have stated that the update will help users prevent others from using their personal photos for marketing, spamming, and defamation. However, some critics are questioning whether the newly implemented tech could further blur privacy lines, which is an area that Facebook has been heavily criticised about in recent years.

A New Way to Prevent Catfishing on Facebook?

As has pointed out, the new feature will also notify users whenever someone uses one of their photos as a profile picture. This has become an unsettlingly popular practice that is commonly seen as the basis in catfishing (using someone else’s picture to gain attention/trust). Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals have even gone so far as to post revealing or embarrassing photos of their ex-lovers or friends on Facebook, so the new facial recognition feature is expected to help reduce the incidence of such revenge attacks as well.

Considering the Eventual Implications and Possibilities

Being able to find out instantly whenever someone has posted a picture of you on Facebook certainly seems like a nice perk to have, but some skeptics have begun questioning what the associated consent could lead to. If a user is okay with being identified based on their facial features on Facebook, it follows that such permissions would transition over into the physical retail space, with customers being identified on camera using the same tech. For now, such possibilities may seem distant and overly intrusive, but as the general public becomes accustomed to widespread facial recognition technology, it’s certainly a realistic scenario to think about.

Facebook Gaining Too Much Power as a Private Entity?

Some privacy experts have expressed concerns about the amount of power that Facebook may have with so much facial recognition data at its disposable. Considering a significant portion of the population uses the site, the company could theoretically use such leverage to its own advantage by selling facial data to other enterprises out of the public eye. While these concerns are currently just a matter of speculation, as facial recognition becomes more accepted among the general public, facial data could become a commonly transferred marketing asset much like a list of email addresses.

Unfounded Concerns or a Sign of Things to Come?

Facebook is no stranger to privacy concerns, but are these issues really pertinent, or are they just the hypothetical conjurings of conspiracy theorists? From a practical standpoint, it doesn’t seem that facial recognition data will play a detrimental role in user privacy, but it is worth considering the implications that such technology has for the future of citizen identification within society as a whole.

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