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Facial recognition - is it convenient or creepy?

Facebook is stirring the Internet up once again. In an attempt to help alert Facebook users when an image of themselves has been posted, Facebook is using facial recognition technology. It's not the first time this technology has been used, and it probably won't be the last.

John Constine of TechCrunch reports on Facebook's announcement regarding their new use of facial recognition. Chances are pretty good that we all have at least one or two unflattering pictures of ourselves somewhere on Facebook. And that's probably the best case scenario. What happens if the picture is even more problematic? You know, that photo of you on the beach when you were supposed to be in class, or the one of you at that party that your best friend didn't get invited to? If the friend that posted that picture didn't tag you, you may not even know it's on Facebook.

With Facebook's new Photo Review feature, facial recognition technology will help alert you about pictures you may be in, even if you haven't been tagged. Facebook claims the new feature is designed to help protect you from impersonators and help you maintain your privacy. However, if the thought of having Facebook scan uploaded photos looking for you makes you uneasy, they have also made it easy to opt out of this new feature, as this article from BGR explains.

Supporting Web Links

Discussion Questions/Activities 
  1. How do students feel about this latest feature Facebook is offering? If they are not using Facebook but parents or younger siblings are, will they discuss it with them? Why or why not?
  2. Divide the class into two groups to debate the pros and cons of facial recognition. The discussion can be limited to its new use on Facebook or you may want to broaden the discussion to include other ways it is being used. The Supporting Web Links section includes several related articles, but each group may wish to research other examples as well. Allow each group time to conduct their research, then reconvene to hold the discussion. Each group should provide examples and valid reasons supporting their position (either pro or con). At the conclusion of the discussion, determine which group made the more compelling argument.
  3. As an individual project, ask students to locate a recent news article involving facial recognition in an area or industry of their choice. Students should write a brief report providing a synopsis of the article and discussing any ethical concerns involving the use of such technology.


  1. I think this is a great idea. I would definitely opt into this program. To know that my pictures cannot be stolen and used for purposes I don't know about or approve of makes me feel more confident in posting them. Photographs are a critical part of communicating through social media, to do this with the knowledge that what is mine will stay mine makes the flow of socialization online that much more comfortable. I understand the arguments, what if someone finds out something you don't want them to through the means of this tool. From what I have read opting out of this feature is easily available to those who do not desire the need for it. I believe this technology should be available for all Facebook users.

  2. Being someone who has been victim to an impersonator, I find it very useful to have. I have an experience where someone used my full name, and date of birth but used different photographs. They then decided to add most of my friends on facebook and impersonate me. While they used different photographs, this tool wouldn't be useful. But with the identity fraud issues happening around the world, I wouldn't mind using it. I understand that people are very critical about social media sites storing vital information such as facial features, but in today's world your sense of privacy is essentially gone already.

  3. I was not aware of this feature on Facebook (because I'm not on it), but I am not sure how to feel about it. The surface claim that its alerting people when their picture is posted is convenient for catching people who "catfish" others and stolen identities I suppose, but you also have to think about what else will this technology be used for. If it is being used in a negative way the company would not tell the users or there would be a negative reaction. They sell the good to cover the bad.


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