Facebook Adds Facial Recognition

Before you go freaking out, Facebook’s new facial recognition feature isn’t there quite yet – your latest photobomb won’t result in the victims sending you angry Facebook messages as the service identifies your snarling mug in the background. For now, facial recognition simply means recognizing that a face is present and leaving it at that.

The feature, just added last night, hopes to make the tagging process quicker and simpler, as part of a larger effort on Facebook’s part to improve the entire photo uploading, browsing and tagging process.

According to Facebook, more than 100 million photos are uploaded daily – a statistic that looks to rival that of YouTube’s 24 hours of video uploaded every minute. In addition to the sheer volume, there is barely a person on the social network that hasn’t been part of the photo uploading process, with 99% of the more than 400 million users having uploaded at least one photo. What Facebook’s new product manager for photos Sam Odio is trying to point out here in his blog post is that uploading photos is massively popular and in need of some streamlining, likely to the benefit of Facebook’s servers.

Odio was the founder of Divvyshot, the company behind the facial recognition technology that was acquired by Facebook two months ago.

For now, facial recognition will identifiy that a face is present in an uploaded photo, asking the user “Whose face is this?” According to Facebook, the feature is in limited testing, so you may not see it yet, but this and more will be coming for all soon. “Stay tuned,” Odio writes, “for future posts about other work on browsing, uploading and tagging.”

We’re hoping this does help to clearly tag photos, rather than ending up with names popping up between two people when you mouse over their rubbing elbows.

While others, such as Endgadget’s Tim Stevens, lament that the facial recognition won’t go as far as saying who’s face the software is seeing, we have to say we’re glad Facebook hasn’t taken this leap. And surely, when they do, we’ll see a privacy setting for whether or not we want our face to be identified on any and every photo uploaded to its service, right?

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