Facebook Moments: another privacy dillema

Moments: recognizing friends and finding shared events.  Source: Facebook

Moments: recognizing friends and finding shared events.
Source: Facebook

On Monday Facebook introduced Moments, a new, unbundled-from-the-main-app photo sharing app. Moments uses face recognition, geolocation, and its knowledge of a user’s social graph to tag people in photos and group them by events. After recognizing a “moment,” a specific event with several participants, Facebook will tag friends in that set of pictures and the user can share them. Naturally, the photos with the tagged faces can be reshared by the friends, even outside the group.

Jeff John Roberts on Fortune wrote an interesting post about the privacy implications of Moments. He said that while impressive, there is a catch, which is “that the whole thing turns on Facebook’s facial recognition technology in a way that requires everyone to accept the use of their face as a type of ID badge.” Facial ID will become another (big) piece of information in the data Facebook collects about its users and it can now use their “faces to create an archive of where they were and who they were with.”

The technology behind Facebook’s image processing, also apparent in the incredible search and sorting powers of the new Google Photos, seem almost magical. Facial recognition is truly amazing, correctly identifying even similar-looking siblings. But when products like these start connecting between a person, their biographical information, their interests and hobbies, their planned events and casual outings, their geolocation, their social connections, and now their face, they can become a bit invasive. Will users choose the amazing functionality and ignore the creepy factor? Will they really use Moments in the smaller social groups as it was intended? Will users treat photos with tagged faces with greater care before sharing? With two such products launched by the big players in the last two weeks alone, it will be interesting to see what product succeeds and how people use it.

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