HAPPY GO-LUCKY funsters at Facebook have taken the covers off the launch of their latest privacy breach - and this time it involves the workforce.
An investigation by Business Insider (it's a paywaller, not a baller) has found that in the period around 2015 and 2016, the company developed a facial recognition package which could recognise workers and their mates just by pointing the camera at them.
There had been rumours that the app was capable of finding anyone on Facebook, at least in theory, but Facebook has since denied it, saying that the feature was fully opt-in from both sides, and was an exercise in research, not monitoring.
A lot has happened since then, including the small matter of the company that rhymes with "Same bridge has a little car". The app was quietly dropped without any fanfare, and there's no sign that it is ever likely to be resurrected. Remember - this was a time before it was cool to hate Facebook.
Moreover, with Facebook already heading to court over allegations that it collected facial recognition data without permission (sounds slightly familiar?), it doesn't seem likely that it will be up for more scrutiny of its ethical practices surrounding the emerging tech.
That fight is still over the ethics of automatically tagging photos, which compared to what we're talking about now seems a world away.
"As a way to learn about new technologies, our teams regularly build apps to use internally," a Facebook spokes-pawn told CNET. "The app described here were only available to Facebook employees, and could only recognize employees and their friends who had face recognition enabled."
But let's not lose sight of something important. Although it would be better all-round if Facebook hadn't invented it, this is a seriously impressive use of technology, and for all the questions surrounding its ethics, if Facebook really has sussed facial recognition, there are a million positive uses for it just waiting to be licensed. μ
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