Remember when Facebook rolled out facial recognition in 2010 and people freaked out so much that the network (temporarily) pulled it? Now Google Plus, the world's second largest social network, has rolled out something even creepier, and it's barely attracted attention.
Google+ launched object recognition (technically "Photo Search With Visual Recognition") on Friday, which means that users can search for an object on the network and see all the photographs taken of that object by people in their Google+ circles. For example, people can search "snake" and see who in their circle has taken photos of the reptile.
Like Facebook's facial recognition, the new tool doesn't technically enable users to invade the privacy of those in their Google+ circles any more than they already could. But the new search does make privacy invasion easier -- it's one thing for someone to post potentially incriminating photos trusting they'll be buried by a mountain of data, and another to know that the photos can be easily found by typing in a keyword.
Of course, the privacy-invading nature of social network "upgrades" has now become such old news that the Google+ feature may go off without a hitch. Barely a week goes by, it seems, without a privacy breach from a big tech behemoth, such as Google scooping email addresses and passwords from unsecured wireless connections when it took photographs for Google Street View.
Thankfully, the potential havoc wreaked by an unfortunate Google+ object search at least seems contained to whomever you allow into your Google+ circles.