Social networking sites helps people to interact freely, sharing and discussion about each other. These websites help users to communicate with their social circle by sharing pictures, videos, audio and personal words. In Social networking, groups and individuals exchange content to engage in person to person communication. Social media is still in the process on evolving. Major social networks sites are making changes to improve their websites on almost daily basis, social networking will continue evolving in coming years. Social media is now an integral part of our society. Some social networking websites have user bases much bigger than the population of many countries. Facebook is top most ranked social networking site, it is emerging and providing advanced tools for its user to facilitate social communication and to grow their social circles. Recently Facebook use an application used for facial reorganization, many blogger and social media activists started to critically analyze this tool and its impact on Facebook users.
It has been over 3 years since social media website Facebook started a new tagging feature in America that use a technology named as facial recognition. Facebook simply added a feature that can match faces in profiles pictures, group photos with match faces and suggest a name of friend while tagging a photos. NYD in capturing criminals and putting them behind the bars by using this feature on Facebook. The NYPD and other security agencies are stepping into this social media network and locating criminals with the help of finding their photos on Facebook by facial recognition software. Facial recognition works on analyzing shapes and size of eyes, cheekbones, jaws and noses to find match, it is now used in investigations as equally important as fingerprint analysis.
The official from NYPD explained how face recognition helped to crack a recent robbery on street in which a lady reported to have stolen her jewelry by a known guy. She didn't know the name of criminal but she successfully led police to photos on profile page of her friend. This technology is much advanced that it works with photo taken through CCTV cameras or anywhere else from where cops can get images. Facial recognition technology is not a foolproof technology as it gives good matching results when images are in high quality. Sometimes CCTV shots are not sufficiently good for this technology to get accurate match.
This tool is benefiting security agencies while on the other hand it is a worst nightmare for any conspiracy theorists. Just imagine a privacy crushing software that combines a giant database of images, identifying persons in them and connecting to face spotting on web. American users will not accept it. Congressmen Ed Markey and Al Franken did not accept it. EU banned Facebook from using the facial recognition technology for its users. Eventually Facebook removed the feature from the site for “technical improvements", leaving it behind until the EU public will ready for it. That time is now as Facebook quietly rolled tag tool back out for American users. Facebook brief its user about new tool as to help it’s users in process of easily identify their friend in photo and share content with their friend. After the backlash by couple years ago we would assume that Facebook have make few changes to this software like by default not turning on facial recognition for everyone, but no steps are taken by Facebook. The software is exactly same as that was before, Facebook doesn't looks interested in changing this software.
Another issue that could arise in future is if Stalkers and Child Predators start to use this facial reorganization feature to get information about friends of their victims or track down their victims. Another issue can be in case if a mafia or a racial group uses this feature to track down their targets. So in any case if this feature is used by criminal it could be a night mare of us. The question that come across our minds is that why Facebook is doing such things? The answer in a word is ‘money’. There is a wonderfully relationship between the major application developers and Facebook. Applications makes Facebook much more attractive, on the other hand the proliferation and add-ons propelled Facebook, so everyone has own interest to keep Facebook on the top in ranking. Facebook is a privately held organization, it is believed that Facebook posted a revenue of around $500 million just in the year 2009, significantly more in coming years. A big piece of that came from virtual goods which are used with many applications. It is estimated that the total Facebook revenue for third party application developers is larger than of Facebook itself.
Facial reorganization tools may help Facebook to get more revenue from security agencies or from advertisers but it will not make a secure user profile, which will ultimately impact its users. Facebook has fooled it’s users over and over again, exposing private information of its users to advertising companies. It look like a tired drama in which Facebook always messes up, they get caught then media start freaking out and at last Facebook apologizes. Then this cycle starts again. This cycle is again repeated in facial reorganization tool implementation. Users should play their part to work with social media activists so they can sort out these privacy issues with Facebook.
Baloun, M. K. (2007). Inside Facebook. Karel Baloun.
Blue, V. (2012, Aug 29). why-you-should-be-worried-about-facial-recognition-technology. Retrieved from http://news.cnet.com: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57502284-93/why-you-should-be-worried-about-facial-recognition-technology/
Snyder, B. (2011, june 20). Facebook_Facial_Recognition_Why_It_s_a_Threat_to_Your_Privacy. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/: http://www.cio.com/article/684711/Facebook_Facial_Recognition_Why_It_s_a_Threat_to_Your_Privacy