Facebook is developing and testing a system that employs facial recognition to verify the identity of users trying to access the app.
The social media platform’s facial recognition system would require users to take a “video selfie” and look in different directions to assure the tech giant has a complete view of the user’s face, Engadget reports.
Hong Kong-based code explorer and technology blogger Jane Manchun Wong, who unlocks features before they go live, provided insight into Facebook’s new authentication options with a prototype of the software on Tuesday.
Facebook’s Facial Recognition-based Identity Verification “asks me to look at several directions within the circle,” Manchun tweeted. “It explicitly states no one else will see the video selfie and will be deleted 30 days after the confirmation.”
While the new code, which can be used to remotely identify people by name without their knowledge or consent may never be employed by Facebook, the prospects of the monopolistic tech giant obtaining more data from its users are raising concerns.
The company’s data-mining practices are also under heightened scrutiny as it continues to face backlash over its past misuse of user privacy.
“Literally they’ve lied about everything else so how do we know this is true,” one users lamented, amid news of Facebook’s development of a facial recognition system, while another user compared the company’s invasive tactics to “1984.”
Facebook previously used facial recognition technology on photos for tagging recommendations which ignited controversy over whether users’ data had given consent from its users to employ the technology.
In July, Facebook was slapped with a $5 billion fine over its privacy policies as part of a historic settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC charged Facebook with invading users’ privacy by misrepresenting how their photos were being used for facial recognition.
According to the FTC, Facebook misled 60 million of its users by assuring them that the company would not subject them to face surveillance unless they chose to “turn on” the feature, but Facebook was scanning users’ faces in photos even when their facial recognition setting was turned off.
The FTC launched its probe into Facebook following reports indicating political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users without authorization and violated its terms of agreement to notify users when their data is shared with third parties.
In addition to the $5 billion fine, the FTC mandated Facebook to “provide clear and conspicuous notice of its use of facial-recognition technology, and obtain affirmative express user consent prior to any use that materially exceeds its prior disclosures to users,” according to an FTC press release.
The settlement prompted shares on Facebook to drop nearly a half percent, decreasing its market cap by $1 billion, which represents 9 percent of the company’s 2018 revenue.
Facebook subsequently modified its facial recognition policy, prohibiting the technology from being employed by default and allowing users to opt in on whether they want tag suggestions.
Lawmakers warn facial recognition could enable a mass surveillance system.
In August, presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders called for a nationwide ban on the use of facial recognition for policing, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced if elected president she would implement a task force to “establish guardrails and appropriate privacy protections” for the technology.
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