back to article Facebook trains self to recognize your face

Facebook is adding face recognition, working to automatically provide tags for the photos you upload to Mark Zuckerberg's own private internet. When you upload pics, Facebook's photo sharing service will seek to identify faces and suggest tags accordingly. It identifies faces using, yes, previously tagged photos. According to …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    tagging over and over...

    depends.. is the cousin hot??

    I'll tag PH an day .. heh.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Re: tagging over and over...

      you mean you consider PH to be hot?

      you might need to get your eyes checked.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Is it me or this has gone a bit too far

    Entertaining, I really do not want to even think about all the wonderful things you can do with this especially if it defaults to putting automatic tags for all the people who have not set their privacy settings correctly. Same goes if you can somehow override the settings (or dupe the victim into doing so).

    1. Steve Roper
      Big Brother

      It's not you

      This is going too far, because not only can people who don't have facebook accounts be tagged, but the stalking potential is huge. Consider the following:

      1. Take a picture of some stranger in public. Upload it to facebook and wait for it to identify the person. Even if they don't have a facebook account. A stalker's wet dream come true...

      2. Because of (1) people will now be even more paranoid about photographers in public places. It won't be just the police harassing you, now it'll be the public as well.

      3. What a gift for the purveyors of the police state our "democracies" have become. An all-in-one-place, warrant-accessible database of face-recognition biometrics of more than 500 million people. How long before the thugs of the ruling elite have unfettered access to this?

      Yes, this is absolutely fucking terrifying. I'm reminded of a line from the movie Freejack: "If he even walks past a vidphone now, we've got him." It's coming.

      1. skellious

        Of course not

        As with manual tagging, this will only allow you to tag people you are already friends with on facebook, and only if they have not opted-out.

        Orwellian face-rec-tech shit-storm is avoided!

        It will save a great deal of time, you can override it and maybe it will persuade people to stop tagging you in those stupid tag-cloud photos (BONUS!)

  3. Keith Doyle

    Source of entertainment...

    There's an easy fix for this, simply start tagging random people as you, and totally confuse things. Should be fun...

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Thumb Up

      Eh... bloody good idea...

      And not just people. You could try dogs and cats, cows, pigs... Homer simpson etc...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        I'm already tagged

        on those irritating text image things where you tag people over the words they match the best.

        And as various bodyparts of people. And in various states of overweight and underweightness. And as celebrities. And even, in one photo, a sex toy.

        If it can manage to tag me, I'll be impressed. Fail, because I hope it will.

      2. Wize

        @sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

        I think Scott Adams has been reading the same story

    2. John 62

      the kids take on tagging

      the kids on facebook seem to like pictures with loads of words on them like 'best buddy' and 'crazy ninja' and stuff and then tag the words with people's names to be humourous.

      (El reg is going to have to get a Zuckerberg icon)

  4. M Gale


    So. So opt out, you have to opt in. Don't want random people putting your name up in lights on the Internet? Register with Facebook so they can... put your name up in lights on the Internet next time they tweak their privacy settings.

    Clever, eh?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      You can tag people who aren't on facebook at all. Ok, so those tag don't turn into links ... yet.

      Just because you don't actively participate, doesn't mean your privacy isn't being impacted by other people's networks. At least being involved gives you a modicum of (the appearance of) control.

      1. squilookle
        Thumb Down

        Re: no

        This appearance of control (and the fact Facebook does help me stay in touch with some family who live abroad and has helped me get back in touch with some old friends) is the main reason I stay on.

        I generally don't like this idea of automatically tagging photos, there are some nice photos on there that I don't mind my friends and family seeing, but there are other photos that I would rather not share, that others have posted (fortunately nothing too dodgy, but thats not the point. :D )

        I will certainly be trying to tag other things as me to try and confuse the system, as some others have suggested in this thread.

        1. Spikehead


          that still won't stop your friends tagging you manually in the photos. You can always go and de-tag yourself.

  5. Dennis Healey
    Black Helicopters

    Serious question!

    I can see that it is a cool feature to help tag your own pictures and that the privacy setting is good.

    However when other people tag your picture, is that a public and therefore internet wide tag? If so there is no point in the privacy setting. A nice tool for Mr Plod and his more shady friends.

    Or is this just my paranoia?

  6. thesykes

    Not that bad?

    All it sounds like it's doing is automating what you can (but can't be bothered to) do manually. If you're not my friend, you can't tag me, only people on my friends list are people I actually know, and who know what I look like.

    Of course, if someone adds a joke pic of a gimp and it auto-tags you, it could be tricky to explain.

  7. Blain Hamon

    Sounds ripe for testing

    So what happens when someone upload various photos of animal behinds, and tags them as [Acceptable target/unliked politician]? Purely in the name of science, of course.

  8. thecakeis(not)alie

    Well that's


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Set your privacy settings properly.

    If you don't know how to do it then read a guide. If you don't read a guide or can't be bothered to change the settings then it is your own bloody fault!

    On a side note, with all the photos of me on facebook this software is either going to be extremely accurate or extremely inaccurate. Will be interesting to see how well it does.

    1. Alpha Tony

      "Set your privacy settings properly."

      i.e. : Don't have a facebook account.

    2. Cameron Colley

      Waht if I don't have an account?

      As far as I can tell from this if someone I met decides to tag a picture with my name they can, and it will search Facebook for pictures of me even if (well, especially if since I have no privacy control) I have no account on Zuckerberg's piece of shit site.

      It's bad enough worrying that one day some cunt will decide to post a picture of me with name attached without having to worry that once said cunt does so if there are any other pics of me on Shitebook they'll be tagged too -- and possibly open to the internet.

      I DO NOT WANT TO BE ON FACEBOOK and I value my privacy -- seems Time's Excrement of the Year wants to force us all to be part of his revenue generating privacy rape.

    3. skellious

      "this software is either going to be extremely accurate or extremely inaccurate"

      whoah! Steady on there! This is high-level stuff you're getting into now! Something is either going to work or it isn't? How can you be sure? Shouldn't you hedge your bets a bit more?

      Sorry, I'm being uncharacteristicly sarcastic here, but as a bit of a stick-in-the-mud phrases such as "it either will or it wont" tend to strike me as redundant.

      i'll go sit in a corner now and think about what I just did...

  10. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    More fun when it breaks

    <--- Facebook tagged you in this photo

  11. Gary F

    Secret service would love FB's database

    How many police forces and secret services would love to get their hands on Facebook's facial recognition database once it's been running for several months? Imagine how much easier it would be for them to identify people from photos or CCTV with a catalogue of 100's of millions of faces. Even the most powerful governments have nothing like that many faces in their database.

    1. mafoo


      I think thats the plan

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Of course

      Do you imagine they are not already trawling FB for information about those they are interested in ?

      1. Dog Faced Boy

        The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

        "Do you imagine they are not already trawling FB for information about those they are interested in?"

        I used to work for a charity working with socially excluded individuals, the aim was to engage with youths to try and divert them away from crime and the courts, so I was in regular contact with the police, social workers, etc.

        All these agencies had fake accounts on Bebo, MySpace, etc (it was before Facebook) so I am assuming they will now have Facebook accounts as well, with the main aim to spy on people that have came to their attention and also spot criminal activity.

        Also I recently watched a BBC documentary on cannabis, and what was interesting was that the police force featured was using Google Street View to spot potential Cannabis growers.

        They were marking out houses that had their curtains drawn during daytime and checking to see if condensation was on the windows. Apparently these 2 criteria marked houses as potential cannabis farms worth investigating.

        1. Anonymous Coward



          They were marking out houses that had their curtains drawn during daytime and checking to see if condensation was on the windows. Apparently these 2 criteria marked houses as potential cannabis farms worth investigating.


          night shift workers bonking!!!

  12. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Hello Mr. Yukkamoto, and welcome back to the GAP!

    [From the 2002 movie 'Minority Report' -- an automated advertising sign, recognizing a set of eyeballs]: "Hello Mr. Yukkamoto, and welcome back to the GAP!"

    It's so much cheaper and easier for spooks and stalkers if your so-called friends do their spying for them, by tagging photos.

    'Course the info might not be unique or accurate, but, "it's good enough for government work". Once you're in Guantanamo, you're not going to be able to effectively complain.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    ITT: 30+y.o. IT workers complaining about a service they've never used.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple recipe

    1. Take photos of people leaving brothel

    2. Identify using Facebook

    3. Cut letters out of newspaper

    4. Post blackmail demands

    5. Profit

    1. Count Ludwig
      Black Helicopters

      Seen today's Dilbert?

      Synchronicity or what?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      What sort of friends...

      Except as stated it only allows you to Tag your friends, so unless you have the sort of friends who frequent brothels i believe your plan falls at the first hurdle

  15. Gavin Bloeman

    All your face are belong to us

    Scary shit - wonder where this is gonna go from here....?

  16. Russell123

    facebook insecure

    This just proves once again how insecure and unsafe facebook is. It is quite ridiculous what facebook is doing. I have quit my facebook account and am currently trying Diaspora out. If this too in unsafe I will be switching to MyCube which offers complete control over user content

  17. Anonymous Coward


    All your face are belong to us.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    trolling Zuckerburg....

    ... is a hobby of mine these days. So here goes:

    "While tags are an essential tool for sharing important moments"

    I'll say. How would I ever remember my friend's name if Facebook didn't display it slightly below her face?

    Oh I see, you actually meant to say 'While tags are an essential tool for stalking people'.

    "By making tagging easier than before, you're more likely to know right away when friends post photos."

    Yeah because they would never tell you would they.


    Trolling aside, I think it's actually a good idea. Tagging photos IS a pain. I know because I tagged myself into over a hundred pictures of static that I uploaded. Let's see them recognize my face now. It also took me a long time to remove tags from over a hundred genuine photos of me. But I got it done. If they're never going to close my account, I reserve the right to fuck with it.

  19. Not Fred31

    privacy setting?

    "Facebook offers a privacy setting that will prevent it from suggesting your name as a tag, "

    How does one avail of this setting when one is not a member?

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Any idiot can use Facebook...

    But it takes someone with a PHD to work out the Facebook privacy settings...

  21. Andy Kay
    Thumb Up

    Google's Picasa already did it

    Picasa has had this feature for ages and I think its great.

    Your report said its being rolled out across FB's US users over the next few weeks, well I've already uploaded a few at the beginning of this week and had a play with this face recognition - It really saves time! Not 100% accurate though (although that could be because it was the office xmas party and we were looking shall we say...well fuelled!!)

  22. petur

    Google already does that for more than a year, btw

    If you use picasa or picasaweb, Google already offers this....

  23. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Thumb Up

    NIce one!

    As each day passes I get more reasons to avoid joing this utter piece of cack website!

    I'm sure when this was discussed in the design meetings at FB HQ all the 18 year old's who obviously run this travesty of a social networking site, thought it would be a great idea, "Like we could, like get the site to like you know, like recognise people from all the snapshots we have, you know?". It's great technology, but there are some serious implications that need to be thought through, I'm sure if a mish-mash of readers fromt The Reg forums can come up with concerns, you'd have thought someone at FB would have?

    Don't they allow adults or sane people into Facebook management meetings?!

  24. Wayland Sothcott 1
    Black Helicopters

    Google street view blurs faces...

    ...but do they run a version of street view with clear faces, even by accident?

    Do Facebook have a superuser mode where they bypass the privacy settings?

    Remember what all techies know but many users don't know, when you delete a file it goes in the recycle bin. When you delete it from there it's simply unlinked from the directory. Only when the data space is overwritten is it really gone. What a computer system seems to be doing is not necessarily what it is doing.

    The Internet is not just a network of machines, the people are networked too. The power of the Internet is that it harnesses human processing capacity too.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just help me here...

    A person, who I do or don't know, takes a photo of scene which includes me. They upload the photo to facebook and add my real name to a tag. I can then become searchable by any person with appropriate (or inappropriate) access?

    And I'll never, possibly, know.

    Pass me the paperbag now!!!

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Todays Dilbert…

    …seems particularly appropriate:

  27. Adam W

    FB Photos

    Of course, sorting out the facebook photo uploader - you know, so it actually works - might help.

    Or have they given up and let Bloom do the work now?

  28. Steve 13


    Half of the commentards here either didn't read the article or don't currently use FB.

    At least that's all I can assume from the various forms of paranoia.

    As it states in the article, only your friends can tag you (and you only have real life friends in FB right, otherwise it's very sad). They can already do this, all that's happened is that the process has had some automation added.

    So the 'Simple Recipe' from AC at 0534 is simply stupid, unless it's your friend coming out of that brothel then FB won't help you identify them, and if it's your friend why were you outside instead of in there with them?

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Now computers, as well as arseholes are going to inform me that i look like either Stephen Merchant or Jarvis Cocker.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    save it for Queen Doppelpopolis

    Finally, a technology that will help me hunt down and kill doppelgangers.

    1. OffBeatMammal

      hopefully with the same results... in Jet Li's "The One" :)

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    so facebook has enough data gathered to identify people from images any bets on how long before this descends to 3rd party licensing for marketing, 'security', cctv etc...

    Maybe not now but they are bound to eventually put a slash and burn, short-term-profit-at-the-expense-of-everything style CEO in charge.

  32. Alan Firminger


    There was recent discussion on the accuracy of facial recognition. Facebook is offering a public database that can be used to test the discrimination possble. The bad news is that anyone wishing to study this has to be a Facebook member.

  33. copsewood
    Big Brother

    Just removed all my tags

    As far as FB are concerned I look like the Mona Lisa with a beard and moustache.

  34. Jamie Kitson


    Picasa already does this I think, it's quite impressive, I wish Flickr would implement it.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Excellent. Open Source Intelligence. mmmmmm, TASTY

    Problem: Index the world's next generation of educated people and leaders by picture and interest. In the future you might need it to mess with their lives after they landed at Beijing Internation Airport.


    1.) Suck first names, last names from

    2.) Plug name into FB. Assume the first photo is the hit.

    3.) Collect all the "friends" with their photos when you are at it.

    4.) In steps 2 and 3 Index all photos with Picasa.

    5.) Try random names by mixing popular first and last names. Use for 2.

    You have got to love the capitalists - selling the rope you will use to strangle them.

  36. John Diffenthal

    Stunned by the technology

    It can recognise these people automatically - awesome! Some of the photos that I have seen over the years wouldn't be recognised by the subject's mother.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Please, facebook, create a security setting of "always default to the most secure" so that I don't have to keep logging in and fixing this kind of crap.

  38. jbk
    Thumb Down


    I ask anyone who uploads a photo with me in it not to tag me. When I have been tagged I delete it immediately - I simply don't understand the point in tags. Only your friends can tag you - but they know what you look like anyway so it's utterly pointless except as a means of stalking people who haven't set appropriate privacy settings.

    Facebook SHOULD create an opt-out of tagging. They let you delete tags so why not an opt-out? Probably because when you "delete" tags they just don't display them any more... what's the bets the tag still exists in the database.

  39. Ku...

    "always default to the most secure"

    Facebook will never offer this.

    Remember on facebook you are not the customer you are the product.

    Facebook makes its money by sharing your data with whoever wants to pay to have it and by using your data to improve the targetting of adverising to you.

    If you care about the privacy of anything, don't put it on Facebook. Simples.

  40. Ku...

    You have to be in it to win it

    Quit freaking out. If you are not on Facebook you can't be tagged.

    re: young people. read the stats, largest group of Facebook users is the over 35 demographics. Fastest growing is 45+ We use Facebook for advertising so we get all this demographic stuff off them.

    Older people often fail horrifically at online stuff. Younger people don't seem to care. Thats how Facebook works.

  41. Martin Budden Silver badge


    This new feature has been running in Australia for a while already. Let me answer a couple of common questions/concerns from the comments above:

    1. It only suggests tags for people who are your "friends" on Facebook. If there is a photo of someone who doesn't have a Facebook account (or someone who does have an account but isn't your "friend") no tag will be suggested for that face. This means non-facebookers are safe from this new feature.

    2. Because this is *facial* recognition, it won't pick up anything from those multiple text images or pictures of household objects or anything else that isn't an actual face, regardless of how that pic may have been previously manually tagged. This means you can't cheat the system and make it think you look like a dildo. Not an actual dildo anyway, you may already be a metaphorical one.

    Having used it a few times I can say that M.Z. is right: it actually is useful and time-saving.

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