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Facebook's New Algorithm Doesn't Even Need To See Your Face To Know Who You Are

22 June 2015, 7:35 pm EDT By Christian de Looper Tech Times
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Facebook is testing a new recognition algorithm that won't even need to see a person's face in order to know who they are. The algorithm certainly could be helpful in tagging friends and family, however, it will also raise many privacy concerns.  ( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )

Facebook's recognition technology is getting so advanced that it may soon not even need to see a person's face to know who they are.

The new algorithm is being tested by Facebook, and instead of using facial features to recognize a person, the tech uses things like hairdo, body shape, pose and even clothing.

"There are a lot of cues we use. People have characteristic aspects, even if you look at them from the back," said Yann LeCun, head of Facebook's artificial intelligence team. "For example, you can recognize Mark Zuckerberg very easily, because he always wears a gray T-shirt."

To test the new algorithm, the team pulled in 40,000 photos from Flickr, all of which were public, with some showing a person's full body, including their face, and others partially obscuring the face. After the testing, the algorithm was able to detect who a person was with an 83 percent accuracy rate. While details about this feature are a little scarce, an 83 percent success rate certainly seems impressive, especially given the fact that, ultimately, it will probably become a tool of convenience for the user.

Of course, Facebook will implement this feature in the near future as a way to try and continue to convince users that they should rely on Facebook for all their photo needs. The company even recently launched a new app called Moments, which helps users easily share their photos by scanning those in a person's library and using facial recognition technology.

The implications of the software, however, are a little bit deeper than simply helping out the user. If facial recognition technology wasn't enough to cause privacy concerns, this new algorithm certainly will. Sometimes, people are trying to remain hidden from the camera on purpose, but if Facebook knows who that person is anyway, that could be a serious issue for some.

In order to avoid raising serious privacy concerns, it would be useful for talks and agreements to be made before implementing more complex and advanced technology into the recognition features of Facebook. Of course, it is unlikely that Facebook will wait for any kind of consensus to be made, and even if it does wait for talks to take place, it is unlikely that opposing groups will be able to reach an agreement on the issue.

In fact, Facebook's new Moments app has been making news headlines, not just for its release, but also for being banned in Europe due to the facial recognition technology that it uses.

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