Facebook is introducing a new feature Tuesday that will let you know when people post photos of you, even if they don't tag you.
The feature will be used to alert you when your face shows up in photos you haven't been tagged in.
It will also alert you when your face shows up in profile photos. "We're doing this to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook," Joaquin Candela, Facebook's director of applied machine learning, wrote in a blog post.
Facebook already uses face recognition technology in tag suggestions when you upload photos with people in them. The company's use of face recognition technology in the past has raised privacy concerns.
Facebook, in this rollout, made it clear it's thinking of potential privacy issues. "We always respect the privacy setting people select when posting a photo on Facebook (whether that’s friends, public or a custom audience), so you won't receive a notification if you're not in the audience," Candela wrote.
But these controls won't necessarily stop bad actors from using people's images without their knowledge, since they can exclude the people they're stealing from by creating custom audience settings.
Facebook is also adding a new control that will allow people to turn off face recognition entirely if they're concerned about its privacy implications. It's not a default option, so you'll have to opt out. But if in the past you'd disabled tag suggestions, the new features will be turned off by default along with tag suggestions.
The features also won't be available in Canada and the EU, which have strict privacy laws.
Facebook is debuting one more feature using facial recognition: an upgrade to its accessibility tool for people with visual impairments that will now read out the names of people shown in a photo, not just "person 1," as it did previously. It will also read out the names of people if they're not tagged.
"We're always working to make it easier for all people, regardless of ability, to access Facebook, make connections and have more opportunities," Candela wrote.
Facebook was able to release these new features with help, witting or otherwise, from many people who've used Facebook's tag suggestions for their photos, Facebook product manager Nipun Mather told BuzzFeed News. This helped make Facebook's artificial intelligence–powered face recognition technology even smarter and ready for primetime.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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