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  (Source: popfi.com)
Facebook applied facial recognition technology to users' accounts without notifying them

It seems as if Facebook's problems with security are never-ending. New social networking features roll out and appear to cross the line almost every time, and now, Facebook users are expressing concern for its new facial recognition technology. 

Facial recognition technology can be found in different programs, such as Apple's iPhoto and Google's Picasa. But the facial recognition feature can be turned off, giving users the option to use it or not. Unfortunately, this is not the case with Facebook's facial recognition feature. 

Facebook announced the release of the facial recognition feature back in December, saying it would speed up the process of tagging friends in photos. Facebook also noted that it would only be released in the United States, but in an email statement yesterday, Facebook admitted that the technology had become available to users internationally without telling them about it

"We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them," said Facebook in an email statement. 

The Facebook response also added that photo-tagging suggestions using the facial recognition technology were only offered when new photos were uploaded to Facebook, and it only suggested friends. In addition, the message mentioned that the feature can be disabled in a user's privacy settings. 

But it's difficult to turn these settings off when people do not know they even have the feature. 

This new feature presents privacy problems because Facebook has over 500 million users, and applying this technology unknowingly could raise questions about whether certain personally identifiable information would become associated with the photos within the database. 

"Yet again, it feels like Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users by stealth," said Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos.



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This is why...
By ForumMaster on 6/8/2011 10:39:12 AM , Rating: 5
This is why I don't use FaceBook.




RE: This is why...
By Souka on 6/8/2011 11:40:46 AM , Rating: 4
I don't want FaceBook recognizing my facial!!!!

My wife would get mad!


RE: This is why...
By MrBlastman on 6/8/2011 1:07:52 PM , Rating: 1
Yes, we must always make sure to coat the eyes evenly as well as the lips when giving one.

Err...


RE: This is why...
By BadAcid on 6/8/2011 11:41:02 AM , Rating: 2
and I don't even own a TV. /smug


RE: This is why...
By KFZ on 6/8/2011 11:42:41 AM , Rating: 2
Even if you are in an uploaded photo you had nothing to do with, who's to say your face hasn't already been screened?


RE: This is why...
By kattanna on 6/8/2011 12:18:51 PM , Rating: 2
i have never understood those who think that posting private stuff to a PUBLIC networking site, that they would have any real privacy expectations


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/11, Rating: -1
RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/11, Rating: 0
RE: This is why...
By Smilin on 6/8/2011 1:07:14 PM , Rating: 2
If it's such a great feature then why do they have to secretly flip the feature on rather than let people opt in?

And thanks to dailytech and others I am now aware of something that facebook snuck by me without a change to TOS.

Keep it up dailytech...if it bothers me then I won't read it. (or come bitching).


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2011 1:15:13 PM , Rating: 2
Ok am I on another planet here? You already signed up for Facebook, you already uploaded your images and share them, you are ON A SOCIAL NETWORKING site! What possible reason would anyone have to think you would further want to "opt in" for something you've been doing voluntarily already!?

You use the biggest social networking site on the planet, and yet somehow, expect anonymity?

Your argument is like telling me you should be able to walk down the street and have nobody see your face, and if they DO, they should have to inform you they saw it. Do you realize how asinine you sound?


RE: This is why...
By Smilin on 6/8/2011 1:49:51 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ok am I on another planet here?

No. You're just making so many wild assed assumptions about what people are doing that you think they are crazy. For example..
quote:
You already signed up for Facebook, you already uploaded your images and share them
Nope. I upload just a few images to FB. Anything of value I share via another method then post on facebook. Why? I'm aware that all photos on facebook become their property.
quote:
What possible reason would anyone have to think you would further want to "opt in" for something you've been doing voluntarily already!?
Hm. So you have some sort of evidence that facebook was scanning every uploaded photo prior to this?
quote:
You use the biggest social networking site on the planet, and yet somehow, expect anonymity?
..perhaps you ARE on a different planet. I never said those words yet you heard them. Strange.

quote:
Your argument is like telling me you should be able to walk down the street and have nobody see your face, and if they DO, they should have to inform you they saw it. Do you realize how asinine you sound?

WOW. I think you've cornered the market on asinine here. Nothing in my argument says that. But hey lets take your stupid analogy a little closer to reality..

Walking down the street and someone recognizes me? Fine. Don't tell me? Fine. I'm in public, WTF?

Sending a robot down the street to do a "Minority Report-esq" scanning and tagging of EVERY face it sees faster than any human being could possibly do? Maybe I don't like this...I still have the choice to stay indoors. Don't tell me about it so I'm tricked into being scanned? NOT cool.

If you're not able to see where this could possibly lead then you're dense as frozen shti.


RE: This is why...
By delphinus100 on 6/8/2011 10:21:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You use the biggest social networking site on the planet, and yet somehow, expect anonymity?


Hardly. but does that mean that the site has unlimited rights in how they can process and use the information?

Particularly with functions that may not have been there when one first signed in, and about which you were never informed when they were added?


RE: This is why...
By therealnickdanger on 6/8/2011 1:21:41 PM , Rating: 1
Because as Reclaimer noticed, most users are too stupid to manually adjust settings. If they made this feature "opt in", it would probably never get used. I'm a proud user of Facebook and I'm happy that they keep improving the site. I'm fully aware that it is a PUBLIC site and that if I want to keep something private, all I need do is modify the settings or NOT POST it.

Rep. Weiner should take note.


RE: This is why...
By Iaiken on 6/8/2011 12:47:58 PM , Rating: 1
What you fail to understand is that Facebook has been tagging people in photos that other people have uploaded without their permission.

There are even examples of people being tagged in photos taken by tourists that just happened to have them in the frame as they were walking by. Facebook is basically a precursor to the most ingenius surveillance system ever devised where the public wittingly/unwittingly provides the information.

Even if this data only ever remains in the hands of Facebook, it can lead to more thorough automated examinations of your person. What do you wear, where do you go, what do you like to eat, drink, play? Technically, you don't even need to be a Facebook user, friends can add tags of people who are not users.

What's more, there are no laws governing their own internal use of this data or it's persistence in their systems. The possibility exists for companies to build such profiles on you before you ever become a user in the hopes that someday you will become a user that they can then exploit for profit.


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2011 12:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What you fail to understand is that Facebook has been tagging people in photos that other people have uploaded without their permission.


Wrong, you DID give them permission when you signed up with Facebook and agreed to their terms. And, again, if you don't like ANY feature you can turn it off.

quote:
Facebook is basically a precursor to the most ingenius surveillance system ever devised where the public wittingly/unwittingly provides the information.


Baseless fear mongering.

quote:
What's more, there are no laws governing their own internal use of this data or it's persistence in their systems. The possibility exists for companies to build such profiles on you before you ever become a user in the hopes that someday you will become a user that they can then exploit for profit.


Ok take the tin foil hate off. That's frankly absurd. Companies are not waiting around in the hopes that you will make a Facebook account and upload photos so they can, at some point in the future, exploit you. Don't you see how fear is clouding your judgement here? Come on!


RE: This is why...
By Smilin on 6/8/2011 1:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
And, again, if you don't like ANY feature you can turn it off.


So tell me Einstein how do you travel back in time to turn off a feature you didn't even know existed until it had already been running for a while?


RE: This is why...
By Solandri on 6/8/2011 1:59:45 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
quote:
What you fail to understand is that Facebook has been tagging people in photos that other people have uploaded without their permission.

Wrong, you DID give them permission when you signed up with Facebook and agreed to their terms. And, again, if you don't like ANY feature you can turn it off.

That's not what he's talking about. His next sentence should have made that obvious:
quote:
There are even examples of people being tagged in photos taken by tourists that just happened to have them in the frame as they were walking by.

He's talking about your photo being uploaded to Facebook by someone else, and your face being recognized, cataloged, and tagged (and if the EXIF data on the photo includes it, cross-referenced to a time, date, and location) without your consent.

I don't even have a FB account, and this has been something I've worried about off and on. I know FB already knows my email address and phone number from friends of mine who do use it asking each other what they are. Through this sort of indirect data-mining, at some point FB is going to know almost as much about me as if I did have an account. As you point out, I'm not opposed to a company data-mining people who have opted in to use their service. But how the h*ll do I opt-out of this if I don't even have a FB account in the first place?


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2011 2:22:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
He's talking about your photo being uploaded to Facebook by someone else, and your face being recognized, cataloged, and tagged (and if the EXIF data on the photo includes it, cross-referenced to a time, date, and location) without your consent.


Then your problem is with that person, not Facebook.


RE: This is why...
By Iaiken on 6/8/2011 2:44:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then your problem is with that person, not Facebook.


Who is quite possibly a total stranger that you would then need to contact in order to have the tag removed.

This basically mandates that you constantly scour Facebook to remove unwanted appearances in 3rd party photographs or turn the feature off completely. Even then, there have been times where Facebook has changed features back to on after people explicitly set them to off.


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2011 2:53:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Who is quite possibly a total stranger that you would then need to contact in order to have the tag removed.


Umm that would only be possible if you checked "everyone" on your access list. Like I said, Facebook isn't responsible for you not knowing how to secure you profile and set access lists.


RE: This is why...
By Iaiken on 6/8/2011 3:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you get this...

Even if you set your access list to totally private... Facebook can tag you in one of my pictures despite us not knowing each other. Hell, I can tag people who are not on my friends list, I've had friends tag their friends in my pictures as well. Basically, all of your account settings fly out the window once a 3rd party is involved or even someone who is on your friends list.


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2011 3:11:12 PM , Rating: 2
How in the hell would my image realistically be tagged in a photo uploaded from someone I don't even know?


RE: This is why...
By Iaiken on 6/8/2011 3:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
You're coming around slowly...

I can tag a photo of someone who is not you, as you as long as I know your name. I've received tag requests from people who were complete strangers to me, but who knew my friends.

I've also received automated suggestions from the new system for tagging pictures of people who look like me as me from complete strangers.

Basically, the power and reach of this system is what makes it so intriguing to me. For my next experiment I will probably just grab 100+ stock photos of people from the local news to see if it will ID them correctly for me.


RE: This is why...
By Iaiken on 6/8/2011 2:39:23 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Ok take the tin foil hate off. That's frankly absurd. Companies are not waiting around in the hopes that you will make a Facebook account and upload photos so they can, at some point in the future, exploit you. Don't you see how fear is clouding your judgement here? Come on!


Do you even have half a clue in your head about how Facebook makes money? If you have a Facebook account, then Facebook is already exploiting all of your demographic information (regardless of weather it was involuntarily provided) for a profit. It's basically a "self-serve" advertising engine driven by your likes as well as those of the people in your social circles. From here on out it is just a matter of refining profiles and how it targets people.

It's an established fact that Facebook is keeping information on non-users. If you have ever received an e-mail or SMS request from a friend to join Facebook then they have stored that data. I have a friend who is super anal about this as every time he has to write Facebook customer service and ask them to delete this information from their system and they send him back a confirmation including a list of the data that was deleted.

Curious about this, some other friends and I did an experiment where we made up a name to tag him by in my pictures. We then and created an empty profile for him named "Iaiken Forabeer" who has since been deleted. By virtue of adding him to only my friends list, Facebook was able to link all of our photo tags of back to this phony profile. The new profile had no pictures of it's own, and I tagged a single photo of him under the phony name. By the next day he was tagged in almost all of the photos of all of my friends despite him not being on any of his friends lists.

Conclusion? Without having provided any information beyond a name and a single friend request, he was tagged across six other accounts and was receiving advertising related to the likes of several layers of friends removed.

Personally, I think it's genius and I think it's only a matter of time before the website becomes more arcane and sophisticated in it's abilities and operation. This is basically a cautious respect for something that is becoming more than it was yesterday with every passing day. I mean really, why stop at recognitions of faces when you can just as easily recognize brands that you should be pimping out to those faces? and at a profit no less!


RE: This is why...
By Schrag4 on 6/8/2011 12:48:53 PM , Rating: 1
Well according to the article, international users didn't know about the feature until months after it had been turned on for them by default.

The OP's reason for not using FB is that no matter what settings he chooses, FB might decide to change your settings without telling you anyway. Or they could be hacked and your info stolen. Or they could decide to sell your info, and so on.

While personally, I feel these are all great reasons not to use FB, I have to admit that the main reason I don't use FB is because I see my few, true friends in RL regularly enough. I don't need an hourly update on the BM status. I'm still relatively young (33 today), but I really don't understand this latest generation. It's like everyone's a zombie, looking at their phones 24/7, while they're walking, driving, riding a bike, even when they're carrying on a conversation with someone sitting across the table from them! Bugs the heck out of me. /rant


RE: This is why...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/8/2011 1:37:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm still relatively young (33 today), but I really don't understand this latest generation. It's like everyone's a zombie, looking at their phones 24/7, while they're walking, driving, riding a bike, even when they're carrying on a conversation with someone sitting across the table from them! Bugs the heck out of me. /rant


Well I'm 34, and if I could get away with only having to deal with my loved ones in person and nobody else, I would do it. Look at the world around us, it's not so hard to understand why so many feel this way.


RE: This is why...
By Smilin on 6/8/2011 2:00:34 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
If you didn't want your image used, you wouldn't have uploaded pictures in the first place!


Get your facts straight. This is being done on images of me that OTHERS uploaded with or without my permission.


RE: This is why...
By icanhascpu on 6/8/2011 2:34:49 PM , Rating: 1
Then youre an idiot. Because there are much MUCH better reasons why not to use it.


Real reason to be concerned
By Donovan on 6/8/2011 11:10:40 AM , Rating: 4
It doesn't seem as if this feature has direct privacy concerns, since it appears to be a more intelligent cataloging of data which is already available. The real reason for the alarm is that people are finally noticing just how much you can learn about someone from the information that they have been broadcasting via social media sites.

Think about all the cleverness that Google uses to find pictures and articles related to your search keywords, and imagine that same effort directed towards figuring out where you have been going, who you were with, and what you were doing there. If you are one of the many people who vomit their life out onto Facebook and Twitter, you are probably easier to track than a hurricane carrying an iPhone.




RE: Real reason to be concerned
By Devilpapaya on 6/8/2011 11:15:14 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
you are probably easier to track than a hurricane carrying an iPhone.

Got a kick out of that.


RE: Real reason to be concerned
By MrFord on 6/8/2011 11:52:58 AM , Rating: 2
Wonder if it will be able to tag crotch shots automatically too...
/easyjokeaboutshorttermcurrentevents


How about a useful post..
By Smilin on 6/8/2011 1:04:02 PM , Rating: 2
Account Settings -> Privacy Settings -> Customize Settings (small near bottom) -> Suggest Photos of Me to Friends (edit button) -> Disabled

Every thread on this amounts to a bunch of people saying "well don't use facebook" and "how could you expect privacy when..."

Look. We know what's going on. Facebook like any other "free" service is really selling you (not TO you). It also happens to offer services that I really like. Finding an old military buddy or staying in touch with distant relatives and friends is very valuable to me. I'm not happy about the privacy but I'm not leaving Facebook. I keep information to a minimum and keep privacy settings tight.

It's all about a balance of risk so spare me your lectures.




RE: How about a useful post..
By smackababy on 6/8/2011 2:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
What?!? Are you suggesting I manage my own privacy and content? Are you high?


RE: How about a useful post..
By Smilin on 6/8/2011 2:52:28 PM , Rating: 2
... hehe personal responsibility.. I know it's f'n crazy!


RE: How about a useful post..
By psaus42 on 6/8/2011 3:10:27 PM , Rating: 2
@Smilin; thank you for posting those details for the rest - beat me to it. It would be nice if DT writers would post similar details in the future - I am like you, I can't just leave FB. I hate this necessary evil that is FB, but it's the best way to communicate with my family - I have family in several countries, not to mention friends. *OH Facebook, oh how I hate thee*

@smackababy, I replied to you because I literally laughed out loud. I wish my user-base would think like you
(wait, it's a LOL nothing more than a true laugh... because if it's not outloud isn't that just a smile?)


you let them win
By kellykkoli on 6/8/2011 10:48:33 AM , Rating: 3
This is such a bad repeated cycle. We complain about something facebook does regarding our privacy, no one does anything to fight back against it, but instead we all continue to use the product. People need to just get over the fact that anything you do online is being tracked, all of your info is being used to sell things to you, and nothing is truly private online. Stop fooling yourselves! It's not just facebook!




RE: you let them win
By ApfDaMan on 6/8/2011 11:29:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
we all continue to use the product.


Speak for yourself.


RE: you let them win
By garagetinkerer on 6/8/2011 8:02:46 PM , Rating: 2
This!

I deleted both my facebook and orkut accounts. I originally read that businesses were snooping in your private life, as or after giving you a job. Why i ask? Now everyday you hear more about situation degrading to nanny state. It may be a rumour, but i read somewhere that these chaps are working with US government. I wonder why the governments want more information on me, as long as i'm a law abiding person? It's just snooping. Spying suspects and random snooping are two different things and i don't agree with the latter.


WE SEE YOU
By rbuszka on 6/9/2011 12:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
This just confirms my suspicion about why the CIA has taken such an active interest in Facebook. Here you have one of the world's largest databases of people's names linked to photos of their face from multiple angles and in multiple lighting conditions, which makes Facebook the largest potential treasure-trove of 3D facial recognition data that can be used to recognize your face from any angle, anywhere.

Right now, many security cameras in the field are fairly low-resolution (think grainy 7-Eleven security videos that show up on the news), and aren't high-enough resolution to capture images that can be used for facial recognition, but your cell phone camera certainly is, and it can be recording you and those around you, without your knowledge -- especially if you have an always-on phone like the iPhone. Also, some security cameras can record with high enough resolution that they can make out details of your face. Soon, government agencies will have the ability to search a database for where you were last seen, if they don't already have this capability (which I suspect they always have, and are just rolling this feature out to the general public now.)

Ever wonder why Facebook still hasn't gone public? It's because they'd have to open up records on clandestine efforts like these to exploit their data, with their cooperation. My concern about this isn't with trying to hide any illegal activities (that is, it's not that I have "something to hide"), but losing the feeling of having control over who can see you and recognize you, or who can obtain information about where you are. Essentially, you can no longer remain anonymous if a device can capture your facial image. This should send us all a clear message that in all places, we are seen by and known to the intelligence and law enforcement agencies of our government, for good or for ill.

George Orwell only failed to predict the advent of wireless data devices; the technology to create and enforce an authoritarian regime like that of Ingsoc has arrived. The next step is for governments of the world to decide they have the authority to identify the normal patterns of behavior of their subjects and then if an individual deviates from their pattern, to forcibly retrain them to follow that pattern. We've passed through a Huxleyan reality on the way to our true final destination. Welcome to Orwell's Oceania.




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