WTF?! Facebook Can Now Identify You While You Walk Down The Street!
“The age of privacy is over.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made that major statement last year at the 2010 TechCrunch awards. “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people,” he announced. “That social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”
Say what you may, but it would be hard to disagree with the 27-year-old billionaire. Each and every day we share the minute details of our lives with our Facebook status updates often every other minute, tweet pictures of our lunch and share our whereabouts using FourSquare. While all this might seem harmless, Facebook has recently taken the next step in making sure we have no privacy even after we leave cyber space.
Researchers Alessandro Acquisti, Ralph Gross and Fred Stutzman at Carnegie Mellon University‘s Heinz College have discovered how to use Facebook’s ginormous database of profile pictures and facial recognition software to match people’s names to their faces and basically identify who you are while you walk down the street with an accuracy rate of 31%. According to Time, here’s how the study worked:
The researchers created a database of 25,000 Facebook profile pictures from students at the university. Then, they gathered up some volunteers and snapped some photos with a webcam. After about three seconds of rapid-fire comparisons, the software was able to identify the student nearly a third of the time.
In another experiment, the researchers compared 277,978 Facebook profile photos to nearly 6,000 profiles from a dating site. Through facial recognition, the researchers identified roughly 10% of the dating site’s users — many of whom used pseudonyms.
The government has already jumped at the chance to use this technology. Most recently U.K. riot police used face recognition software to investigate the London riots.
“Facial visual searches may become as common as today’s text-based searches,” says Acquisti. “This has ominous risks for privacy. What we did on the street with mobile devices today will be accomplished in less intrusive ways tomorrow. A stranger could know your last tweet just by looking at you.”
So be careful what you tweet and get ready for your close-up. Find out more about how this latest innovation in technology can be a straight slap in the face to your privacy.