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Facebook built a facial recognition app that could 'identify any member of the social network'


Facebook is under fire for privacy concerns once again, as the social media giant tested a facial recognition app on its employees.

Using real-time facial recognition, the firm was able to identify a person by pointing a smartphone camera at them.

It was reported that the app has been discontinued, but the technology was capable of bringing up someone’s Facebook profile who had enabled facial recognition on their profiles.

The shocking report was first revealed by Business Insider who cited anonymous sources who said the app was developed between 2015 and 2016, but has since been shut down. 

Facebook did confirm that it developed the app, but denied it was capable of identifying members of its social media network and pulling up their profile.

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Facebook is under fire for privacy concerns once again, as the social media giant revealed it tested a facial recognition app on its employees. Using real-time facial recognition, the firm was able to identify a person by pointing a smartphone camera at them

Facebook is under fire for privacy concerns once again, as the social media giant revealed it tested a facial recognition app on its employees. Using real-time facial recognition, the firm was able to identify a person by pointing a smartphone camera at them

A Facebook spokesperson told DailyMail.com in an email: ‘As a way to learn about new technologies, our teams regularly build apps to use internally.’ 

‘The apps described here were only available to Facebook employees, and could only recognize other employees and their friends who had face recognition enabled.’  

The social media giant has been under a microscopes lately for its privacy issues and this app is not the first instance it had to do with facial recognition.

In 2018, Facebook started using its AI to assist in tagging users in photos, but many said it may violate users’ privacy, the New York Times reported.

It was reported that the app has been discontinued, but the technology was capable of bringing up someone's Facebook profile who had enabled facial recognition on their profiles

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It was reported that the app has been discontinued, but the technology was capable of bringing up someone’s Facebook profile who had enabled facial recognition on their profiles

The scrutiny came from the Cambridge Analytic scandal – Facebook harvested 87 million users’ data and shared them with Trump-affiliated campaign research firm Cambridge Analytical.

The probe has focused on whether the sharing of data and other disputes violated Facebook’s 2011 agreement with the FTC to safeguard user privacy.

Under that agreement, Facebook is required to get permission from users before sharing their data.

But when Facebook started using AI to tag people in photos, privacy advocates took issue with it, especially Facebook’s way of marketing the technology.

The firm said its facial recognition technology can ‘help protect you from a stranger using your photo to impersonate you’.

Proponents of the technology say it can even be an effective tool for spotting criminals.

But many argue that the firm doesn’t take enough steps to make sure it has obtained proper user consent before doing so.

To start, the technology can remotely identify users by name without their knowledge or consent, according to the Times.

It scans faces of users in a photo or video and matches their unique facial patterns to users that are in a database of named people.

The social media giant has been under a microscopes lately for its privacy issues and this app is not the first instance it had to do with facial recognition. In 2018, Facebook started using its AI to assist in tagging users in photos, but many said it may violate users' privacy

The social media giant has been under a microscopes lately for its privacy issues and this app is not the first instance it had to do with facial recognition. In 2018, Facebook started using its AI to assist in tagging users in photos, but many said it may violate users’ privacy

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Facebook also tells users that they can turn the feature on or off, but many argue that Facebook still scans faces even when it’s deactivated.

‘Facebook tries to explain their practices in ways that make Facebook look like the good guy, that they are somehow protecting your privacy,’ Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Times.

‘But it doesn’t get at the fact that they are scanning every photo.’

However, a Facebook spokesperson told the Times that its system analyzes faces in photos to see if they match with others who have the setting turned on; if it can’t find a match, then the data is deleted.

Still, critics say Facebook tried to persuade users to keep the feature turned on, saying it would help improve their safety on the platform.

WHAT IS THE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCANDAL?

Communications firm Cambridge Analytica has offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.

The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.

‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.

The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix (pictured), after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump

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This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.

This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump.

This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.

 



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