Facebook is launching a new feature that will automatically identify faces in photographs users upload. They will not use facial recognition technology to identify the photos–yet. So for the time being, people will still have to tag their friends. But Google Picasa already uses facial recognition technology to identify people. Hang on. Facebook will catch up soon enough.
Way back in 2008 in Omniveillance I wrote:
With the advent of photo-sharing Internet sites like Flikr, MySpace, and Facebook, people can now upload photographs and “tag” a specific person’s identity in the photo with metadata, as if they were captioning it in a scrapbook (i.e., John Doe is the third person on the left). Although currently the tagging process must be done manually, new facial recognition such as Google’s Picasa system utilizes artificial intelligence computers to automatically index and tag the subjects of photographs.147 Software like Polar Rose is capable of scanning the entire World Wide Web, matching faces with previously tagged photos based on similarities in biometric features, and automatically tagging the photo with the person’s identity.148 Berners-Lee mentions tagging as one of the key prerequisites to the semantic web.149
Once an image is tagged, these captions can be searched and indexed like any other document on the Internet. As aresult of this emerging image-analysis technology, a search engine like Google can easily correlate a person’s face with his name, contact information, personal preferences, friends, and any of his personal information located on the Internet. In fact, Google’s Director of Product Management, R.J. Pittman, “said that Google is developing visual crawling software that can be used for facial recognition and scene analysis.”150 Applied to Street View, this future technology can be combined with tagging and advanced image search capabilities to identify anyone who is recorded by omniveillance.