When Facebook automatically enabled facial recognition for photo tagging purposes last month, the company was forced to apologize after the backlash from angry users who had their privacy invaded by default yet again. Was that anger caused by Facebook changing the privacy settings, or because the photo tagging used facial recognition software, or a bit of both? Face.com, a face detection and recognition service, believes their software is cool, not creepy, and that people have overcome privacy concerns about a technology that can identify faces . . . and the moods on those faces as well.
After Face.com launched its free API last year, the company’s service was called the “facial recognition software that will put a name to every photograph in the Internet.” Developers have been using Face.com’s Photo Finder to allow people to “search for anyone” on the web with “90% accuracy on social networking sites.” Face.com had originally limited the software due to “concerns about invasion of privacy.”
After more than 20,000 developers had tried out Face.com’s free APIs, the software company launched a newsletter for developers which announced more free API face detection tools. This time, the service can identify a person’s expression as well as estimate their mood
Within days of the new Face.com release, the API was used in a free Cartoonizer Android app to “convert your photos and those of your friends into cartoon characters.” Another application is called Moodbattle with the results being posted on Tumblr to allows users to “to compete for who has the angriest, happiest, saddest or neutral(ist?) facial expression.” Since Face.com is offering mood and lip detection as well as facial recognition detection for free, it is plausible that more developers will continue to play around with the APIs. There is even a Sandbox Console for developers to tinker with the API without needing to code.
According to MIT’s Technology Review, Face.com believes most users don’t see facial recognition technology as creepy. In fact, the company believes “most users don’t mind being recognized automatically online.” Face.com’s CEO Gil Hirsch said the company processed “more than two billion different photos.” The 20,000+ developers who signed up to use the facial recognition technology can process 5,000 photos an hour for free.
Kelly Gates, a professor at University of California, San Diego, believes the “security and surveillance” concerns about facial recognition technology is being overcome. As “we are habituated to things like photo tagging it starts to seem attractive to automate it.” Gates added that the “usefulness of services like Face.com’s will be enough for most people to eventually accept facial recognition, just as they’ve accepted other technologies that initially caused privacy fears.”
Do you agree that facial recognition is more cool than creepy? Do you have privacy concerns about Face.com’s face detection technology which could potentially put a name and a mood on every face in every photograph that is posted online?