Facebook has just launched a new feature that will alert users whenever a photo of them is uploaded to the site, even if they weren’t tagged in it. The feature is based on facial recognition, with AI technology automatically matching the biometric data in a given picture to what’s on file for users who have not disabled facial recognition on their profiles.
Facebook says it’s aim is primarily to stop individuals (or bots) from impersonating legitimate users, and to increase users’ awareness of how their image is being used on the platform. There are some ancillary benefits, as well: Like Facebook’s recent move to implement facial recognition to verify accounts showing suspicious activity, the new measure could help the company to fight back against the kinds of fraudulent and bot-driven accounts designed to spread misinformation across the social network. It could also help to foster more activity and engagement among users, given the additional notifications they’ll be receiving, which in turn will lead to more opportunities for Facebook’s advertisers.
Of course, as always with Facebook, privacy remains an important concern. The company’s use of facial recognition in the past has landed it in some legal trouble, and Facebook is not rolling out its new feature in Canada and the European Union to make sure that its stays on the right side of those regions’ privacy regulations. But with the iPhone X now helping to further popularize – and normalize – facial recognition technology among everyday consumers, the new feature seems unlikely to raise too many eyebrows wherever it does go live.