Facebook has made Facebook Moments, the company's private photo-sharing app, available in all countries with the release of a modified version of the software for the European and Canadian markets.
Facebook Moments, which was originally launched almost a year ago, is able to group pictures according to the people and places featured in them. The app is able to do this by utilizing the photo-tagging system of Facebook, which is based on facial recognition technology.
However, courts in both the European Union and Canada have ruled that the photo-tagging system is a violation of laws on privacy. For Facebook to release Facebook Moments into these markets, the company had to take out the facial recognition technology in the app.
As such, the modified version of the app coming to Europe and Canada will require users to identify the people included in pictures manually, with Facebook Moments then attempting to look for other pictures that contain a similar face based on certain similarities.
The characteristics that Facebook Moments will be looking for to tag a person in different pictures include the distance between a person's eyes, the distance between their ears, and other features that will not require the app to collect biometric data.
A cropped low-resolution versions of images stored in Facebook Moments are uploaded to the cloud, sending back a numerical representation on the faces found in the pictures. The numbers are then the ones used to compare if the same person is found on another photo.
The Europe and Canada version of Facebook Moments will not work as seamlessly as the versions of the app with a photo-tagging system, but at the very least, it is legal in these markets and will still allow users to group their pictures under different categories.
The release of the modified Facebook Moments app comes just as Facebook finds itself embroiled in a new legal issue, with the company failing to have a privacy lawsuit trashed. The legal action claims that Facebook is violating the privacy of users through its Tag Suggestion system, which automatically tags users on pictures uploaded to the social network.