Facebook under fire for its facial recognition tech

Facebook under fire for its facial recognition AI amid claims it could violate user’s privacy

  • Facebook has come under fire for its controversial facial recognition technology
  • Privacy advocates say it has failed to obtain proper consent from its users
  • The firm maintains that its facial recognition tech is used to protect identities 
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Facebook has come under fire for its controversial facial recognition technology. 

The social media giant primarily uses it to assist in tagging users in photos, but consumer groups and advocates say it may violate users’ privacy, according to the New York Times. 

The scrutiny comes as Facebook continues to grapple with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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Facebook has come under fire for its controversial facial recognition technology. Privacy advocates say it has failed to obtain proper consent from users 

Privacy advocates have specifically taken issue with how Facebook markets its facial recognition technology, telling users that it can ‘help protect you from a stranger using your photo to impersonate you.’

Proponents of the technology say it can even be an effective tool for spotting criminals.  

But many argue that the firm doesn’t take enough steps to make sure it has obtained proper user consent before doing so.  

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To start, the technology can remotely identify users by name without their knowledge or consent, according to the Times.   

It scans faces of users in a photo or video and matches their unique facial patterns to users that are in a database of named people. 

Facebook also tells users that they can turn the feature on or off, but many argue that Facebook still scans faces even when it’s deactivated.  


Privacy advocates have taken issue with how it markets its facial recognition technology, telling users that it can ‘help protect you from a stranger using your photo to impersonate you.’

‘Facebook tries to explain their practices in ways that make Facebook look like the good guy, that they are somehow protecting your privacy,’ Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Times. 

‘But it doesn’t get at the fact that they are scanning every photo.’

However, a Facebook spokesperson told the Times that its system analyzes faces in photos to see if they match with others who have the setting turned on; if it can’t find a match, then the data is deleted.  

Still, critics say Facebook tried to persuade users to keep the feature turned on, saying it would help improve their safety on the platform. 

A screenshot from the platform shows that Facebook told users: ‘Before you manage your data settings, these examples can help you decide what choices to make’

‘Face recognition technology allows us to help protect you from a strange using your photo to impersonate you or tell people with visual impairments who’s in a photo or video using a screen reader’


Facebook claims that it built the technology and consulted with European regulators to make sure that it was in line with the new GDPR rules, but privacy advocates remain wary

HOW DOES FACIAL RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY WORK?

Facial recognition software works by matching real time images to a previous photograph of a person. 

Each face has approximately 80 unique nodal points across the eyes, nose, cheeky and mouth which distinguish one person from another. 

A digital video camera measures the distance between various points on the human face, such as the width of the nose, depth of the eye sockets, distance between the eyes and shape of the jawline.


A smart surveillance system (pictured) that can scan 2 billion faces within seconds has been revealed in China. The system connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets

This produces a unique numerical code that can then be linked with a matching code gleaned from a previous photograph.

A facial recognition system used by officials in China connects to millions of CCTV cameras and uses artificial intelligence to pick out targets.

Experts believe that facial recognition technology will soon overtake fingerprint technology as the most effective way to identify people. 

‘If you keep face recognition turned off, we won’t be able to use this technology if a stranger uses your photo to impersonate you’

‘If someone uses a screen reader, they won’t be told when you’re in a photo unless you’re tagged,’ the site continues. 

Facebook claims that it built the technology and consulted with European regulators to make sure that it was in line with the new GDPR rules.   

However, European regulators continue to have concerns about the technology, as do regulators in Ireland. 

Additionally, Facebook is facing a lawsuit in Illinois by users who say the firm violated their privacy by collecting and storing biometric data without their consent.

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