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Facebook Photos in a Post-NSA World
By: Jessica Cherok
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In recent months we’ve been inundated with the realization that the government is spying on us. We’re outraged. We’re concerned. We’re also kind of meh about the whole thing since most of us don’t have anything to hide. As more information comes to light, our collective unease with the role social media plays in government spying continues to grow.

Long before we knew anything about the NSA’s secret program, Facebook debuted its facial recognition technology. The feature, released in 2012, meant to make tagging friends in photos easier, was met with a lot of concern regarding consent and privacy. So much so that only a few months after the feature was announced, it was removed entirely.

Our outrage didn't last long, and earlier this year facial recognition on Facebook was back. Still, it was re-released before Edward Snowden made his infamous outing of the U.S. government. Perhaps now is a good time to revisit how creepy we think Facebook’s facial recognition technology is.

Consider this — Facebook has over a billion users, over 250 billion pictures (that’s 4,000 photos per second), and all of those images are compiled in their uber facial recognition database. Even if you’ve opted out of the feature, your biometrics are likely still in the database. This means that Facebook has arguably the most comprehensive facial recognition database in the world.

Let that sink in a little bit.

It’s true that most of us don’t have anything to hide. Which is good, since clearly we probably wouldn’t be able to do so even if we wanted to.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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