So you’ve had an amazing holiday and you want to share your memories with all your unfortunate friends and family that didn’t get to go. Facebook is your answer, and with the purchase of Face.com’s facial recognition software by Facebook, tagging your fellow holiday makers is easier than ever before.
Change your settings?
But does making it easier to tag your mug raise questions about your privacy? With recent stories about hacking scandals and increased concerns about identity fraud, you would be silly to ignore the risks. On the other hand avid Facebook users might decide that the convenience balances out the risks, or just ignore the risks all together. You can of course turn the app off but Facebook has been pretty sneaky and the facial recognition feature is the default setting. Now now, don’t all rush at once to check your settings!
Looking at the developments Facebook is making, the cons seem to outweigh the pros. The amount of information people reveal on Facebook is staggering. Your friends can see everything from your place of work to what you had for dinner last Tuesday. And if you haven’t got your privacy settings pretty high, the rest of the world can see it too.
Friendships and connecting with people
Some may argue that the software increases your privacy as you have more chance of being tagged and therefore you know where your image is being used, but the debate is on going. With over 500 million people registered on Facebook, ask yourself, how many of those people do I know? If Facebook were to expand the use of the software you could find yourself receiving suggestions to tag and add people you don’t know. Of course, you don’t have to add Clive ‘Axe-Murderer’ Smith from Birmingham who lives in his mother’s basement, but Facebook suggests that you do. As Facebook’s primary emphasis is on friendship and connecting people it doesn’t seem surprising that their software could be developed to connect strangers.
Facial recognition for marketing
Facial recognition software also has the potential to be used as a far more analytical marketing tool than your average consumer survey. Remember that can of Coca-Cola you enjoyed at the pub last night? Your Facebook sidebar might now be filled with adverts from Coca-Cola and its associated products. The same could happen with your Converse or your apparent addiction to Costa. Advertisers would have the ability to tailor the adverts based on your preferences.
However, maybe the increase in adverts isn’t such a bad idea, especially if it’s for things you love. Think about your junk email folder, brimming over with appeals for you to try Viagra, hair thickening creams, or the new ‘wonder drug’ that turns you in to a bronzed goddess in mere weeks… Wouldn’t it be great to get emails and adverts about products you actually use and want?
On the face of it the software seems to be pretty nifty technology and as yet poses little real threat to our privacy. If you’re uncomfortable with it then you can change your privacy settings and opt out, for now. Facial recognition features are definitely one to watch as developments are made almost constantly and it could soon be used for advertisers’ financial gain, at the expense of our privacy. But I wouldn’t worry just yet; besides, we’re all friends here!