The social network is extending the tentacles of its already powerful facial recognition algorithms. The Washington Post reports that Facebook is rolling out three new facial recognition features today. They will:
— Describe who is in a picture to visually impaired people.
— Alert you if anyone uses your likeness in a profile photo.
— Notify you whenever the site’s AI sees an image of you uploaded, whether it’s tagged or not.
The first seems seems like a great accessibility move. The second seems sensible, as it will help weed out fake accounts and impersonation attempts. And, arguably, the third point also seems like a decent privacy idea, finally providing a way to keep tabs on any number of photos of you that may get uploaded to Facebook without your knowledge.
Still, as ever with facial recognition technology, there’s room for some skepticism. Here’s a counterpoint from Tom Simonite of Wired:
Informing you of their existence is also good for Facebook: more notifications flying around means more activity from users and more ad impressions. More people tagging themselves in photos adds more data to Facebook’s cache, helping to power the lucrative ad-targeting business that keeps the company afloat.
If you tend toward that line of thinking, you can opt out of Facebook’s facial recognition on your account. If you do, it disables all these features, as well as stopping auto-tagging when you upload your own pictures.