Facebook knows you're in a photo before being tagged

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Facebook is introducing new facial recognition features that will automatically notify users when their photo is posted on the social network.

"There may be photos that exist that you don't know about", he told Wired.

However, the company says it respects the privacy settings which its users decide on when posting the photo, and therefore, if you're not in the audience set by the person uploading the picture, you won't be notified that you've possibly appeared in that person's photo.

The features demonstrate how Facebook is using a trove of facial recognition data, a type of data that has become a key focus for tech titans. Previous settings were more complex and made users select (or not) different facial recognition features. "Our technology analyzes the pixels in photos you're already tagged in and generates a string of numbers we call a template", said Joaquin Qui├▒onero Candela, Facebook's director of Applied Machine Learning, in the blog post. The goal of the scanning, according to Facebook, is to alert you if someone has publicly uploaded a photo of you that you don't know about, especially if they are trying to impersonate you.

The new features are launching worldwide except in Canada and the European Union where Facebook now doesn't offer facial recognition technology.

Facebook says that "these new features help you find photos that you're not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture". When a new photo or video shows up on Facebook, it is compared to the template to determine who it is. Those in the European Union and Canada, meanwhile, don't even get the choice to begin with, as Facebook doesn't offer its face recognition technology due to data sharing and privacy legislation.

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"When it comes to face recognition, control matters".

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The same technology is also being used for a new tool that supports people with visual impairments.

Facebook already uses facial recognition to some extent. "The person who blocked the original account is in control, and must initiate contact with the new account in order for them to interact normally".

Introduced two years ago, the technology recognises broad object categories like "trees" or "river" and will now be able to read out the names of people in the photos too, provided they Facebook users.

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