Right now, Facebook's facial-recognition software can sense who is in your pictures and make tagging suggestions, but what if the social network could further learn behaviors and preferences by reading the Gap sweatshirt you're wearing and seeing that Coca-Cola can in your hand?
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Following Facebook's recent acquisition of facial-recognition software company Face.com for an undisclosed amount of money last week, some users have expressed concern that the expansion of this type of technology on the social network could encroach on their privacy rights. Facebook hasn't said what it's future plans are for Face.com or its technology and would not comment for this story.
Facebook has been using the Israeli startup's software for about a year and a half, accessing the billions of pictures sitting on its servers to learn the faces of you and your friends. The news that Facebook would be bringing the vendor in-house implies that the company sees the technology as an area for potential growth.
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The acquisition -- which is rumored to cost $60 million -- won't even close for a few weeks. But because Facebook's rapid user growth has slowed due to so many people joining the site in recent years, it needs to boost engagement in other ways.
"Whether the acquisition is to increase the use of facial-recognition software on the site or is just a financial move that makes more sense, it's unclear at this point,” Chester Wisniewski, a senior security adviser for security firm Sophos, told Mashable. “But it certainly raises security concerns for many who feel uncomfortable knowing that Facebook is analyzing their images.
“It’s also possible that this could open up doors for advertisers to target users in new ways based on what they are doing in pictures,” Wisniewski said. “But this would raise even more security concerns moving forward."
In the meantime, some users might exercise more caution with how they upload pictures.
"It’s hard to keep track of all of the privacy settings on Facebook and people want to feel secure when posting personal information, so users may find themselves sharing less on the site,” Wisniewski said. "The recent news that LinkedIn passwords were compromised helped people realize that just because it's a big company doesn't mean that data is safe.”
There isn’t a privacy setting to prevent Facebook from collecting facial-recognition data from right now, but you can opt out of the site auto-suggesting whether or not you may be in pictures.
What do you think about the future of facial-recognition software? How do you think Facebook might approach the technology moving forward? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
BONUS: 10 Innovative Uses of Facebook Timeline for Brands
The soda company's branded Facebook Timeline page took advantage of the Leap Year by pretending that the extra day "created a rip in the Fanta space-time continuum and sucked four of our characters: Gigi, Lola, Floyd and Tristan out of the Cover Photo and into the past."
Fans of Fanta's Page must engage in its "Lost in Time" game, which requires navigating through the Fanta Timeline, to bring the characters back to the future.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
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