Facebook had created a face recognition app that recognizes employees and friends. It actually did not release it publicly, but it created and used it within the company. This face recognition simply works by pointing the smartphone camera at the person who needs to be identified. This feature can be enabled or disabled by the user.
Facebook has been receiving many criticisms regarding the privacy problems faced by the users of the platform. It was bashed for creating this face recognition app and was very much criticized in the past. Facebook says that it creates and experiments a number of new apps among its employees.
Among that, one of the apps is the facial recognition app, which identifies your colleagues and friends by simply pointing the smartphone camera at them. But, Facebook says that it indeed built the app, but was not released publicly. And that it was just used between the Facebook employees. Facebook also argued that it simply is used to identify friends and family.
Business Insider reports that the app was actually built between 2015 and 2016. But, its use was discontinued since then. Facebook says, “As a way to learn about new technologies, our teams regularly built apps to use internally. The app described here were only available to Facebook employees, and could only recognize employees and their friends who had face recognition enabled.”
Facebook receives a lot of criticism, saying the app will have a negative effect on people, and it will be a major threat to the privacy of the people. Facebook also developed a “de-identification app,” which actually falsely identifies the people in the picture. This feature is also used to change the features of the picture and falsely recognize people even in live videos.
This feature was actually created by Artificial Intelligence (AI) research team, and it uses Machine Learning. This actually is a major threat to society, as people will not be able to differentiate, which is the original video or whether it is true or not. This will lead to more confusion during the presidential election.
A paper explains the Facebook approach saying, “Face recognition can lead to loss of privacy and face replacement technology may be misused to create misleading videos.” The paper says, “Recent world events concerning advances in, and abuse of face recognition technology invoke the need to understand methods that deal with de-identification. Our contribution is the only one suitable for video, including live video, and presents a quality that far surpasses the literature methods”.
Now, due to the facial recognition app development, Facebook is facing a $35 billion class-action lawsuit. And when Facebook asked to quash the lawsuit, the US court denied the request. The one version of the face recognition app can also identify anyone on the social network having enough data. But Facebook said that the face recognition app would not recognize just anyone in the social network.
According to Business Insider, the app actually recognizes people and gives the person name and profile picture just after a few seconds as the app was in its early stages. Actually, this face recognition app was built before the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018. This scandal bashed Facebook for its least efforts taken to safeguard the privacy of the information of users.
It highlighted that the UK political consultancy took nearly 87 million Facebook users’ information without the consent of the users. Due to this scandal, the Federal Trade Commission imposed a fine on the Facebook company of $5 billion for its privacy leakage of Facebook users.
Facebook was also criticized for using “tags” for your Facebook photos. Tags create a link to your profile when someone tags your photo on Facebook. This actually is against the biometric privacy law. So, in 2015, a lawsuit was filed against Facebook for violating the biometric privacy law. Actually, this feature will be turned ON by default, and you can turn off if you want. But, from this year, Facebook has made this an opt-in.
Facebook says that the face recognition app was just a legendary example of employee innovation. Facebook nearly has 2 billion users worldwide, and it actually stores each and every user’s biometric information. It also uses facial recognition for tagging photos. But the reason for the Facebook face recognition system being widely criticized is because the company does not properly track users’ privacy of data.
Many cities like San Francisco, Oakland, and Somerville have already imposed a temporary ban on this feature. Facebook says face recognition will eventually replace tagging. That is, when your face recognition feature is ON, it will let you know when someone has uploaded your photo, even though you are not tagged. Then you can make the decision of tagging yourself or get untagged or even report and take down the photo.