Facebook is under fire again, and this time over a terrifying facial recognition app that was tested on its employees. According to Business Insider, the tool used real-time facial recognition to identify a person by simply pointing a smartphone’s camera at them.
Business Insider said the app was developed between 2015 and 2016 but has since been discontinued. Citing anonymous sources, it reported that one version of the tool could even bring up someone’s Facebook profile using facial recognition capabilities. It was allegedly tested on Facebook’s employees and their friends who had enabled facial recognition on their profiles.
Facebook has confirmed that it did develop the app, but denied that it could identify users of the social network. CNET published a statement, which read: “As a way to learn about new technologies, our teams regularly build apps to use internally.
“The app described here were only available to Facebook employees, and could only recognize employees and their friends who had face recognition enabled.”
Of course, Facebook has not confirmed every aspect of the story, but it’s still it’s a very scary thought given that a tool such as this would have been a huge invasion of people’s privacy. The app was developed before more scrutiny began following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, so it seems like Facebook users may have had a lucky escape.
The social network has been the subject of multiple scandals over the last few years, and for this reason the Delete Facebook movement continues to gain pace.
In August this year, Facebook was the subject of controversy after it became the latest firm to confirm that external contractors were listening to audio of users’ private conversations.
The social network is even under fire for privacy from its rivals: Apple has made changes in iOS 13 that stop apps such as Facebook from collecting data in the background.
And this month, Apple iPhone users were warned about a Facebook issue that allowed the app to activate your camera as you scroll your feed.
In response to concerns over privacy, Facebook confirmed in September that its facial recognition feature would be opt-in only.
Facial recognition and Facebook are a bad combination. It’s good to be wary about features like this and to consider the impact they can have on your privacy.