What The Fresh Hell Is This Facebook Face Recognition?
Facebook showed you a vaguebooking post this week entitled “Introducing Face Recognition for More Features.” Facebook, which these days is 90% wannabe viral videos that you can’t scroll past fast enough, announced in a post that showed up once (and only once!) on your timeline earlier this week that “We’re adding more ways to use face recognition to besides just suggesting tags.”
What the fuck does any of the goddamned vaguely worded nonsense above even mean? Facebook is creating the largest database of personal biometric data ever assembled, and claims their reason is to “Tell people with visual impairments who’s in your photo or video.”
I will bet you my left lung that “helping people with visual impairments” is not even among the top 1,000 reasons Facebook is building phenomenally intrusive, powerful, and creepy facial recognition tools.
Facebook explains this sheep’s-clothing facial recognition technology in the calming and juvenile video seen above. You should be extremely afraid of how the cartoon lady winks happily as the narrator says, “The computer generates a string of numbers to represent that person’s face.”
The end game of all this horrible shit is to deliver targeted advertising, with deep knowledge of your income, employment history, and any biases the bots have toward or against your ethnicity. Facebook will tell you it’s all an innocent way to show you ads for shoes and handbags. But considering that this is the same Facebook that showed off a mass-shooting virtual reality game at the Conservative Political Action Conference less than 10 days after the Parkland shooting massacre, I’m not so sure they’re unwilling to get in bed with the ugliest, most authoritarian segments of society.
Facebook's announcement today that it was "adding more ways to use facial recognition" is a opportunity to remind everyone that Facebook is using your photos to build a sprawling database of face-prints, a biometric marker thats unique to you, & similar to DNA or fingerprints pic.twitter.com/uzvssDlsYi
— Avi Asher-Schapiro (@AASchapiro) February 27, 2018
In a weak-sauce, condescending blog post hoping to dissuade our fears, Facebook deputy chief privacy officer Rob Sherman writes, “Society often welcomes the benefit of a new innovation while struggling to harness its potential. ‘Beware the Kodak,’ one newspaper intoned in 1888 as inexpensive equipment came onto the market making photography available to the masses. They called it a ‘new terror for the picnic.’”
Hey Rob, here’s another historical analogy! “‘Enjoy our citizen-tracking database!’ one company named IBM intoned to the Nazis in 1937 as inexpensive equipment came onto the market making mass surveillance available to fascist regimes. They called it ‘the road map to switch from knowledge to deeds.’”
Six million Jews were killed, as were about five million people of other ethnicities. But boy did it create good value for IBM shareholders!
Facebook’s post came literally one day after a federal judge ruled that Facebook is subject to a gigantic class action lawsuit over their collection of biometric data. What a coincidence! But even if you opt out of having facial recognition features display on your Facebook profile, Facebook is stockpiling that data on you one way or the other.
This technology is not quite to where drones can shoot you in a crowd, or where cylons can have you arrested. But make no mistake, it’s getting there. In the meantime, here’s how to turn off Facebook facial recognition on a desktop and how to turn off Facebook facial recognition on mobile.