TECH

Facebook Knows How To Identify You In Photos When Your Face Is Hidden

06/23/2015 11:27 am ET | Updated Jun 24, 2015

If you're worried about facial recognition technology tracking you, you're not going to like this.

NewScientist reported Monday that Facebook has developed an experimental algorithm that can automatically recognize an individual based on unique traits like "hairdo, clothing, body shape and pose."

According to NewScientist, the algorithm proved accurate 83 percent of the time when Facebook's artificial intelligence researchers applied it to 40,000 public photographs on Flickr.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment from The Huffington Post about what products such technology might be applied to. The company recently launched Moments, an app that uses facial recognition to group photos together, and Facebook itself already has the capacity to suggest individuals for tagging in photographs.

The social network has long had designs to develop "deep learning" capabilities, which would allow its platforms to use data to match faces or suggest privacy settings for sensitive content. Facebook is far from alone, with companies like Google and eBay also working on such techniques.

The overall goal, to put it simply, is to help computers think more like humans. You can identify your friends from behind, and now Facebook wants to be able to. Skeptics might argue this opens the door to some worrisome possibilities -- companies that can constantly identify and market to you, for example -- but there are potential benefits.

Facebook's head of A.I., Yann LeCun, told NewScientist that such techniques could improve privacy for individuals and, in theory, alert you whenever a photo of yourself surfaces anywhere online.

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