Facebook uses AI to tackle catfish and identity thieves

Getty Images for CNN

Getty Images for CNN

The new features are launching worldwide except in Canada and the European Union where Facebook now doesn't offer facial recognition technology.

While there are benefits to the new tool - seeing potentially problematic photos before they spread, being alerted when someone else attempts to use a photo of you as their own profile photo, or simply not missing memories of fun events - some Facebook users are undoubtedly going to be uncomfortable with Facebook taking this matter into its own hands.

Facebook will soon start notifying users if they're in a photo and are part of the audience for that post, even if they haven't been tagged. We're all aware that Facebook knows more about us than we'd like, but this might be a step too far.

The latest features will apply only to new photos being uploaded to the site and will not scan through older photos.

For the time being, those settings are the only means to tinker with facial recognition, with folks being asked to grant Facebook permission to use facial recognition across the service.

The goal of the feature, according to Facebook, is to help users better manage their online identity. When enabled, notifications appear in your account when Facebook thinks it spotted you in a photo.

As for Photo Review itself, it is powered by the same AI technology that suggest friends you might want to tag in your pictures.

The new feature, which Facebook frames as a control measure for a user's image, is one of three new applications of facial recognition technology the company announced Tuesday.

The features demonstrate how Facebook is using a trove of facial recognition data, a type of data that has become a key focus for tech titans.

"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", Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, director of applied machine learning at Facebook, wrote in a post Tuesday . "We're doing this to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook". The idea is to give you more control over your identity online by informing you when your face appears in a photo, even those you don't know about.

Facebook will also allow users to ignore a conversation in Messenger and move it out of your inbox without having to block the sender. "We've also heard from groups that work with survivors of domestic violence that being able to see messages is often a valuable tool to assess if there is risk of additional abuse".

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