Facebook on Tuesday unveiled a brand new feature that may improve your entire Facebook experience. Or make it even creepier. It all depends on how you feel about facial recognition technology.
You’ll say facial recognition on Facebook isn’t new, and you’d be right. But Facebook is rolling out a new trick based on this particular technology, and new settings to manage it.
Going forward, Facebook will notify you whenever people post photos of you without tagging or telling you. What’s really great about the new feature is that it’ll let you know whether anyone is trying to create fake Facebook accounts using your pictures as profile images.
The feature is powered by the same technology that allows you to tag friends in photos and videos. When prompted about a picture or video of you being shared on Facebook, you’ll be able to take steps to address the matter if you think it’s abuse. You’ll also be able to tag yourself if you so desire.
However, if you’re not in the audience of the person posting the pic, you won’t get a notification.
How does it work? It’s all mathematical, Facebook explains:
Since 2010, face recognition technology has helped bring people closer together on Facebook. Our technology analyzes the pixels in photos you’re already tagged in and generates a string of numbers we call a template. When photos and videos are uploaded to our systems, we compare those images to the template.
You don’t have to use the feature if you don’t want to. But you should know that Facebook thinks you don’t need too many options for managing face recognition settings. It’s an all or nothing approach. You’ll have an on/off switch that either turns on all face recognition feature or turns them off completely. Facebook tells us that users want a simplified settings menu to handle face recognition. But I’d say there may be plenty of users who’d want to manage face recognition on a feature-by-feature basis.
Will Facebook ever tell strangers who you are? Facebook explained in a second blog post that it has no such plans:
Finally, we aren’t introducing, and have no plans to introduce, features that tell strangers who you are. This was a common concern we heard from people when we researched new features that rely on face recognition technology.
But then again, Facebook also said they won’t pair Facebook profiles with WhatsApp accounts.