My first experience with Facebook’s facial recognition software was an odd one. I was uploading pictures of my son’s kindergarten graduation when Facebook grouped several faces together and offered suggestions. Facebook’s facial recognition program is meant to help you tag friends by automatically analyzing pictures when they are uploaded and suggesting who those people might be, allowing for easier tagging. If you find this creepy and want no part of it, you must opt out by changing your account settings.
My son goes to a very diverse school which is one of the reasons I love it so much. I cannot say whether Facebook’s facial recognition software messed up so badly because most of the people in the pictures were graduating from kindergarten and therefore likely did not have Facebook profiles, or whether the facial recognition program has a technical problem. What I can tell you is that the results I was given after uploading my photos were strange.
The first odd thing I noticed was that Facebook suggested to me that my son was actually my husband. At first I was shocked to see my husband’s name suggested next to my son’s isolated face. If I didn’t think the facial recognition system was creepy before, this cemented it in my mind. It does technically make sense though when you know that there have been many times I have tagged my husband on pictures of my son in order for the pictures to display on my husband’s wall. One mystery solved.
The second odd occurrence is what prompted me to ask whether Facebook’s facial recognition software is racist. The majority of the Asian faces were lumped together even though they were different kids. Chinese and Korean children were identified as being the same person. Likewise, there were a few Latino children that were suggested by Facebook as being the same person. Even stranger, the same child was listed as being more than one person. Interestingly enough, the children who were the most Caucasian seemed to be picked up correctly. Black children also were identified correctly. Gender did not seem to matter to Facebook, as both girls and boys were impacted.
Is Facebook’s facial recognition software saying that all Asian kids look alike? Perhaps the facial recognition software was not developed to identify the faces of children. Could it have been the distance to the stage, or the celebratory lighting that caused this anomaly? I cannot say for certain. Facebook’s facial recognition software is so new that at this point it is hard to tell. I am interested in reading about whether other Facebook users are finding the same results.
What have your experiences been with Facebook’s facial recognition software?
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