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Facebook Re-enables Tag Suggestions Face-Recognition Feature In the US 98

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-to-be-helpful-in-a-really-creepy-way dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Facebook has brought back its photo Tag Suggestions feature to the U.S. after temporarily suspending it last year to make some technical improvements. Facebook says it has re-enabled it so that its users can use facial recognition 'to help them easily identify a friend in a photo and share that content with them.' Facebook first rolled out the face recognition feature across the U.S. in late 2010. The company eventually pushed photo Tag Suggestions to other countries in June 2011, but in the US there was quite a backlash. Yet Facebook doesn't appear to have made any privacy changes to the feature: it's still on by default."
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Facebook Re-enables Tag Suggestions Face-Recognition Feature In the US

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  • by eksith (2776419) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:45PM (#42765727) Homepage

    A camera really can steal your soul.

    Facebook is a good idea taken way too far and a userbase that refuses to acknowledge that fact. If we've learned anything from history, people are more than willing to go along with anything that even includes physical assault for the sake of recognition. A little violation of privacy is no sweat.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:51PM (#42765777) Journal

      facebook has said they endorse apple's "complete control" model. So anyone who trusts facebook after that, is making a big mistake - not one they weren't already warned of.

      Just like viruses, it's going to get a lot worse before people start figuring out what to do about it and what not to do. It's still in the "only the technical people who get it are saying stop using it" category.

    • Pretty easy to defeat this. Tag yourself as other people in all of your friend's photographs. The multiple sources will break the facial recognition database.

      • by s.petry (762400) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:42PM (#42766359)

        That would actually be a great opensource project.. Hmmmm.. the "break my recognition project". "How come this Gerald Whazzisname" looks like a baseball? Well commander, that's what all our searches return.

        • I wonder how many goatze images would need to be uploaded and tagged as zuckerberg before it becomes the definitive photo of him?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        What I wouldn't give for a Laughing Man virus right about now...

      • Pretty easy to defeat this. Tag yourself as other people in all of your friend's photographs.

        Unfortunately that would require me to create a Facebook account.

        Rock vs hard place: accept that I will be tagged without consent, or submit to the machine and try to fight it.

        • If you don't have a facebook account, then they can't swear that the tag is you. Could be somebody else of the same name. Only works if the tag *ties to your facebook account*.

    • Facebook is a good idea taken way too far and a userbase that refuses to acknowledge that fact. If we've learned anything from history, people are more than willing to go along with anything that even includes physical assault for the sake of recognition. A little violation of privacy is no sweat.

      Sorry dude, but this is not physical assault unless the person is taking the photo of you in a private place (e.g. dressing room, shower) or from a place where he doesn't have the right to be (e.g. trespassing). At least in the States, it is well within photographers' First Amendment rights to take and disseminate photos, including by attaching meta-data such as face-tagging and publishing them online.

      See, e.g. Lambert v. Polk County (1989) [google.com]

      From such a finding it would also follow that the taking was a taki

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:46PM (#42766401)

      It goes far, far beyond even what you're thinking:
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2187801/Were-watching-The-camera-recognise-Facebook-picture-time-walk-shop.html [dailymail.co.uk]

      Facebook is putting their own cameras in public with built in facial recognition software. They will track everywhere you go, what you do while you're there, what you buy, what you eat, what you look at and don't buy. Every single thing you do will be logged in their databases, and then sold to... well... pretty much everyone. How much do you want to bet their biggest customer will be the federal government?

      It appears that Orwell was off by about 30 years when he wrote 1984.

      • by arob28 (2025644)

        It goes far, far beyond even what you're thinking: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2187801/Were-watching-The-camera-recognise-Facebook-picture-time-walk-shop.html [dailymail.co.uk]

        Facebook is putting their own cameras in public with built in facial recognition software. They will track everywhere you go, what you do while you're there, what you buy, what you eat, what you look at and don't buy. Every single thing you do will be logged in their databases, and then sold to... well... pretty much everyone. How much do you want to bet their biggest customer will be the federal government?

        It appears that Orwell was off by about 30 years when he wrote 1984.

        The article explicitly says that Facebook did not develop the system and that it is simply an app that uses Facebook's APIs. There's no need for you to mislead people by saying that Facebook is installing their own cameras.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Just like google didn't mean to install hardware and software that stored everyone's mac address as they drove through town across the mfing globe.

        • Your point is irrelevant and naive. Facebook most likely owns this company either directly or indirectly. Even if they do not, the effect is the same. "No no no, the guy shot you with a Remington pistol but the BULLETS were Winchester!!" I'm still shot, and you're still a fucking idiot.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Facebook is putting their own cameras in public with built in facial recognition software. They will track everywhere you go, what you do while you're there, what you buy, what you eat, what you look at and don't buy. Every single thing you do will be logged in their databases, and then sold to... well... pretty much everyone. How much do you want to bet their biggest customer will be the federal government?

        Actually, don't you mean Google Glass? After all, everyone's all revved up about these little goggles

        • I agree... Google is a problem as well. But Google has shown a surprising amount of insight into privacy issues. They're not letting next quarters revenue rule their decisions 100% of the time like Facebook and Apple do. All of Googles hardware so-far usually has the least intrusive prepackaged apps compared to other software platforms. Rooting their phones is very simple. I suspect Glass will be the same. If there is some sort of "Record everything" feature, it will be easy to turn off if it's like Googles

  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Friday February 01, 2013 @05:52PM (#42765789)

    Perception causes me to believe that this "feature" is a double-edged sword. On the one side, it adds to the whole "social networking" thing. Find friends, recognize friends, connect with friends.

    On the other hand, it is a massive crowdsourced facial recognition system that is incredibly difficult to stay away from, even if you refuse to be a part of Facebook (IIRC people can tag you in a picture by typing in your name). It's a f*cking privacy nightmare.

    But what do you have to hide, huh? *grin....sigh*

  • So, what's wrong with face recognition on Facebook? How does this violate my privacy?

    • Take a creepshot of some girl at the mall, upload it to facebook, and see if you get a hit.

    • Man walks out of a gay bar. Has picture taken by anti-gay vigilanties. Facial recognition allows them to find him on Facebook and show the picture to his family, forcing him to be "outed" and ending in a Tyler Clementi situation.

      Countless other examples of how this can be used to severely harm people by parties who don't even know them..

      • Because being outed as gay is a negative? I find being a straight and a parent still married to my first wife to make me stranger than any homosexual.

        • Because being outed as gay is a negative?

          Depends.

          Live in northern CA? Probably no big deal. However, here in the Bible Belt, being outed can, will, and has in the past, cause a person to lose everything.

          And, of course, there's seemingly no end to the stories of gay teens being outed at school, then killing themselves due to the subsequent abuse.

          • Which I still find strange, because here in Oregon, it's WAY worse to be a heterosexual parent fouling up the environment with more human beings.

            Or at least, that's the message I get from the environmentalists.

      • by Old Wolf (56093)

        Man walks out of a gay bar. Has picture taken by anti-gay vigilanties. Facial recognition allows them to find him on Facebook and show the picture to his family, forcing him to be "outed" and ending in a Tyler Clementi situation.

        Any facial recognition software could do this. Maybe the government already does this. I have pictures of myself on my Facebook page. The CIA could already have crawled over Facebook building a DB of everyone's name and photo.

        Also, people being accused of things they didn't do (as another poster suggested) is hardly anything new. I sympathize with American posters not having faith in their justice system to sort out the facts though, as it seems that whoever can hire the most expensive lawyers wins over

    • by icebike (68054)

      Wait for the knock at the door when something approaching your face appears in a photo at a street brawl, and the police find that someone tagged it because they thought it looked like you. All of a sudden you have to prove your innocence instead of them proving your guilt.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Old Wolf,
      Your privacy is important when its absence delivers total power over a population to the state that rules you. Give away power on Monday, and the over-reaching oppressive laws will follow on Tuesday. Turn on the news any day of the week in any part of the world to see this happening incrementally right now.

      It's a personal concern because my wife grew up in East Germany before the wall fell and I get to hear all the stories. Tales about:
      -- Where it was illegal to listen to the radio or watch TV

      • by Old Wolf (56093)

        Thanks for ignoring my question.. I understand the issues of privacy. I don't see how this Facebook move invades my privacy. This has nothing to do with the bullet points you listed.

  • by Midnight_Falcon (2432802) on Friday February 01, 2013 @06:07PM (#42765951)

    If the FBI had access to Facebook's database during the days of COINTELPRO, it is doubtful the American Civil Rights movement would have ever occurred.

    Facial recognition is an amazingly powerful tool for law enforcement when it comes to political adversaries -- imagine a scenario where local police and the FBI could just pop a photo into the special "Law Enforcement" console on Facebook, and find out who the person is, who their friends are, what their likes/dislikes are, what they order online (what kind of ads are targeted), etc.

    It's also sad that most young activists these days are all over Facebook and have been giving it all their information since they turned 13 (or earlier if they just ignored that 13+ stuff), so by the time they become involved, the government has an easy way to find out literally everything about their personal lives. Just upload a picture of them snapped at some political rally, and voila!

    The problem is Facebook is so addictive, I see such compulsive behavior clicking photos, and when you block facebook on networks, users downright have panic attacks.

    Sounds like George Orwell may have been right: We love big brother.

    • by swillden (191260)

      While I don't want to dismiss all privacy concerns here, you're vastly overrating the effectiveness of current face recognition technology. If you compare a given face to a database of millions, much less hundreds of millions, you're not going to get a single match, you're going to get thousands of matches. And, frankly, this isn't just a technology problem. If you then go on to apply the very best (if not most efficient) face-matching technology we have -- people -- you'll find that you still have tens, if

      • When technology catches up so that you can reduce the set to let's say, 10 possible matches, and then have an analyst coordinate it, will it be too late to go back? What happens if Facebook goes bankrupt, and someone purchases this data?

        It appears the road forward is a minefield of caveats.

  • by tqk (413719)

    FB doesn't matter ("stuff that matters", and all that, ya know). Just sayin'. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!111

  • We've got about zero chance of changing facebook policies. Nearly zero chance of legislatively stopping it either (and then there will be plenty of exceptions for "law enforcement" that will just make it so that only the very powerful can abuse these tools).

    But what you can do is to pollute their database. Garbage In, Garbage Out.
    Tag people with the wrong names. Each photo of the same person, tag it with a different name. Or, if you have a lot of photos, use the same (wrong) name a couple of times, bef

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