• 08.30.13

Facebook To Add Profile Pictures to Its Facial Recognition Technology

Privacy campaigners will not be amused. Anyone worried should change their profile picture to, say, a dodo.

Facebook To Add Profile Pictures to Its Facial Recognition Technology

Facebook is mulling using its controversial facial recognition technology on profile photos, says Reuters.


The firm’s chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, claimed that the move would protect users’ privacy. “Our goal is to facilitate tagging so that people know when there are photos of them on our service,” she said, adding that Facebookers worried about the issue could always opt out of the Tag Suggest feature. “Can I say that we will never use facial recognition technology for any other purposes? Absolutely not. If we decided to use it in different ways we will continue to provide people transparency about that and we will continue to provide control.”

Ironically, the news comes a couple of weeks after the social network announced that all access to the site via apps and web browsers would be SSL encrypted, a response, perhaps, to the NSA‘s X-Keyscore program, which monitors the Internet on a vast scale.

The relationship between the state and larger tech firms is becoming more tense–Facebook received 38,000 official requests from government agencies worldwide in the first half of this year–hence the open letter to the U.S. government last month that pleaded for more transparency on the matter.

Two years ago the firm announced that it had bought, an Israeli software firm which specializes in facial recognition technology. Next up on Facebook’s voyage of recognition: speech.

[Image: Flickr user Son of Groucho]

About the author

My writing career has taken me all round the houses over the past decade and a half--from grumpy teens and hungover rock bands in the U.K., where I was born, via celebrity interviews, health, tech and fashion in Madrid and Paris, before returning to London, where I now live. For the past five years I've been writing about technology and innovation for U.S.