Facebook will find your untagged photos using facial recognition

Facebook will use artificial intelligence to show you photos you're not tagged in.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
(Image: Facebook)

Facebook announced Tuesday new face recognition features to help users find photos they're not tagged in and help them detect when others might be attempting to use their image as a profile picture, in another use of machine learning on the world's most popular social network.

The new facial recognition features are optional, and they can be enabled or disabled with a single "on/off" control in settings. If you're currently not using facial recognition on Facebook to auto tag photos, the new features announced Tuesday will be set to off by default.

Facebook said it wants to give users more control over their photos on the social network. "You're in control of your image on Facebook and can make choices such as whether to tag yourself, leave yourself untagged, or reach out to the person who posted the photo if you have concerns about it," Facebook wrote in a blog post.

The profile photo recognition feature is to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook, the company said.

This isn't the first time Facebook has turned to artificial intelligence. It's slowly rolling out AI to features and products, including to curb extremist content, fake news, and low-quality websites and content from its social network.

In a blog post outlining its facial recognition security, Facebook said it works to avoid harmful ways people might use facial recognition, and it has no plans to introduce a feature to tell strangers who you are based on a photo. Facebook is also taking an "all or nothing" approach to face recognition, with an on/off switch instead of the ability to disable it by feature or product.

"When you have face recognition enabled, our technology analyzes the pixels in photos you're already tagged in and generates a string of numbers we call a template," Facebook wrote. "When photos and videos are uploaded to our systems, we compare those images to the template."

Facebook also introduced Tuesday features to help people who are visually impaired know more about the photos they encounter on the social network. Using face recognition, people who use screen readers will know who appears in photos in their news feed even if people aren't tagged.

The new facial recognition features will be available in "most places," except Canada and the EU, where it doesn't offer facial recognition.

Earlier this week, Facebook introduced a machine learning feature to rid of "engagement bait" posts -- that ask for users to interact with likes, shares, and comments.

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