Will Facebook Own Your Faceprint?

Just when we thought Facebook could not possibly take any more liberties with our privacy rights . . . oops, they did it again! For those who might not have heard, three years back when Facebook was on a buying spree, it picked up Face.com, an Israeli facial recognition technology for the paltry sum of $100 million [chump change in comparison to the acquisition of WhatsApp for a cool $19 billion]. This week they're putting that technology to work. . . big time!

Worst Week ever. . .

Indeed, it was perhaps the worst week ever for privacy! Facebook’s ‘Moments app’ will now sync your photos to those of your friends using facial recognition. Noted on their blog, this new technology Can “privately sync those photos (of your friends) quickly and easily” with your own — so essentially you and your friends can have all the photos you took together in one place.

On the surface, this sounds like an advantageous benefit to the user. As Facebook points out, it eliminates the tediousness of cataloging your photos (after the fact), as it creates an expeditious method for sharing pics of an event with those who were there at the same time.

Drill down, folks . . . 

However, you don’t have to dig much deeper to grasp what is actually taking place here. Fortune columnist Jeff John Roberts calls it a “watershed moment" where Mark Zuckerberg et al have moved on the opportunity to utilize your face as a "universal ID card" of sorts — without giving you clear guidelines as to how your facial image will be used by the network for their benefit, in the future.

No, this is not a plot-line lifted from a political spy thriller, nor the database technology used by the police, FBI or Homeland Security. This is a social network taking liberties with your ’Faceprint.’

Whether you are aware, you are already using FB’s artificial intelligence when you’re asked to ‘tag’ a particular photo with a name. That AI power has been harnessed by this new technology to actually ‘see’ and ‘identify’ faces across the hundreds of millions of photographs we all upload on a regular basis. By accepting this service, we’ve just relinquished our rights and allowed FB to use our face as an ID badge.

Similar to when ‘fingerprint’ technology was introduced at the turn of the 19th Century to identify criminals, today Facebook has latched on to our ‘faceprint’ to use as they see fit.

A Face to a Name

Now, think of the implications. In addition to our biographical data, Facebook will be able to literally attach “a face to a name.” This would allow them to tag any of us, track our whereabouts and find out whose company we’re keeping, what venues we are visiting, what merchants we’re purchasing from . . . and the list goes on.

There are currently no laws in place to restrict Facebook’s use of our ‘faceprint.’ According to Roberts, “class action lawsuits over Facebook’s unauthorized use of users’ images have generally come up short — a case over the use of your face for ‘Moments’ would likely do the same.”

And while Zuckerberg has not tied this feature directly to advertising, what is going to stop him from taking that next step in the very foreseeable feature. 

Facebook knows the 'Two-Step' all so well . . . 

Remember, Facebook is very good at taking two steps forward to cross a line, knowing full well — it might have to take one step - or perhaps a half-step backwards.

Your thoughts readers? Ready to face your brave new world? Ready to give up your ‘faceprint’ to a company that eerily chose a similar name some eleven years ago?