back to article Facebook conjures up a trap for the unwary: scanning your camera for your friends

Facebook has decided it doesn't pester its users enough, so it's going to use its facial recognition technology as the basis of a new nag-screen. The ad network is testing a feature in its Android app that will scan a user's recent images for photos that look like their friends. If it spots a match, it'll ask if the photos …

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Devil

Yeah.. No thanks

My only suggestion to Zuck and his mates is for the opt out button to be nice and big with the helpful text of "fuck off" in nice big bold caps.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

My only suggestion to Zuck and his mates is for the opt out button to be nice and big with the helpful text of "fuck off" in nice big bold caps.

The only opt out that really works is leaving Facebook altogether (just read their conditions and you'll see that you're otherwise to be milked in full), but it has been clever enough to make itself part of people's social life :(.

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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

"but it has been clever enough to make itself part of people's social life :(."

What people? Its never has been and never will be part of mine or most of my friends. If others are stupid enough to post their lives online then frankly they deserve what they get.

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g e

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

What a massive fucking waste of battery.

I just ordered a SONY Z5 - FB really expected to be 'scanning' 23MP images for fizzogs? Piss off.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

The only opt out that really works is leaving Facebook altogether

Or even better - never sign up with them in the first place!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

If others are stupid enough to post their lives online then frankly they deserve what they get.

You would get the same reaction from a banker when he saw you took out a loan or did not pay your credit card in full at the end of the month, just as an example.

I cannot condemn people for being innocent and a little bit naïve because they don't happen to have my specific expertise. That sort of arrogance is what gives IT people such a bad name - try to help instead.

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LDS
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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

"zuck off", maybe?

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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

"I cannot condemn people for being innocent and a little bit naïve because they don't happen to have my specific expertise. That sort of arrogance is what gives IT people such a bad name - try to help instead."

Oh please. You don't have to be in IT to know that publically posting your details will seriously impact on your future privacy. These people wouldn't post them on a sheet of A4 and stick it to a lamp post yet they seem to think its ok online. Quite how their reasoning works there is anyones guess.

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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

You would get the same reaction from a banker when he saw you took out a loan or did not pay your credit card in full at the end of the month, just as an example.

I doubt that you would get that loan or CC without having had to read and sign beforehand the T&C, which tends state the amount you need to pay back and such.

Farcebook has the rather annoying habit of changing their T&C to fit their latest info-grabbing venture. Such a change to a loan contract (except the contractually provided-for variations in interest rates) would lead to interesting.cn repercussions for the provider.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

@boltar -

"You don't have to be in IT to know that publically posting your details will seriously impact on your future privacy."

I'm afraid you're wrong about that. Most Facebook users I've asked think that their data is 'private' and is only shared with people they know. There is a prevailing cluelessness about the evils which lie within the Facebook corporation's user agreement.

None I have ever spoken to have any awareness at all of the invasive cross-site tracking which Facebook performs even with the user logged out. Remember, Zukerberg himself referred to his user base as 'morons', probably with some small justification from a certain point of view.

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Bronze badge

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Had to nip out to the post office yesterday just after kicking out time at the local Schools. On the bus ride there I was joined at the back of the upper deck by several spotty teenage youth in uniform. One of them had an impressively high resolution image of one lady and four men engaged in what I now understand is a position referred to as 'airtight'. His phone was filled with such images and as this was the latest addition he was bluetoothing to his mates sitting around him. One of them asked if phone boy had updated his Facebook app to the new version as I was getting up to get off. Can't imagine what the facial recognition software will make of his phone and the contents

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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

A hearty million thumbs up to you, Boltar.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Oh please. You don't have to be in IT to know that publically posting your details will seriously impact on your future privacy.

OK, here I have to jump in.

First of all, few know what privacy actually is, let alone appreciate it or they would not even use Facebook, Google or any other service of that type.

Secondly, even fewer have any kind of idea what the impact is of a loss of privacy. The majority will go through life without any impact whatsoever on their lives, it's only those that got burned via malicious activity (trolling, ID theft or other) that develop an idea of the risk they have been exposing themselves to. If you want any evidence of that, just see ho hard it is to stop otherwise intelligent adults posting something that can expose them to risk. Interior design (nicely showing off all the kit they have), holiday plans/pictures (so it's safe to raid the house) - and that's just burglars.

Thirdly, as few ADULTS have a clue, just what sort of clue do you reckon children have? Rerember, kids have the ability to legalise data collection off them as young as 13. I know adults who are not clued up about the impact (see point 2 above), I certainly have no expectation that children think ahead, even though they are more comfortable with the technology itself.

To counter crooks you have to learn to think like a crook. I think it's actually a good sign from a humanitarian perspective that the majority of the population cannot do that. Personally, I see preserving that innocence as a rather important aspect of security work. We deal with the evil part so our customers don't have to.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Smut filter overload probably. Reminds me of Ronnie Barker in Porridge when his locker is opened to show the prison visitors how he has personalised the cell. Being confronted by pictures of page 3 stunnas he says those two are the wife and that's the wifes sister.

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Coat

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

The only opt out that really works is leaving Facebook altogether (just read their conditions and you'll see that you're otherwise to be milked in full), but it has been clever enough to make itself part of people'sthe least common denominator of society's social life :(.

There, FTFY

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Happy

@Boltar: Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Boltar,

so presumably all of the 'yoof' that have made your acquaintance follow your sage advice 100% then?.

Ooi in principle I actually agree with you...

Regards,

jay

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Thumb Up

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

....nice and big with the helpful text of "zuck off" in nice big bold caps.

there, FIFY

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Mushroom

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Actually, this could be enormous fun. Even worth setting up an account for. Under an appropriate name, of course. Possibly.

Imagine:

Get your"self" friended or whatever the word is by as many self seeking self important idiots as you like. As high a profile as possible.

A set of photos, some slightly dodgy - nothing illeagal of course, but people - or animals - that farcebook might "recognise" as certain people - innocently designed to be possibly somewhat offensive and definately not pc to said obnoxiorati.

Wait for the recognition algorithms to do their work.

BINGO.

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Anonymous Coward

airtight

surely airtight would be 1 lady and 3 men? I can't imagine what the fourth man is for and I'm too scared to start googling it....

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bep

Re: Yeah.. No thanks...but

"most of my friends." Sorry old boy, unless it's NONE of your friends, then you may and probably do have skin in the game - I suggest you read the article again. Unfortunately the only way to find out for sure is to play, and Facebook makes the rules.

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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

FOUR orifices plugged?

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Re: Yeah.. No thanks

That still leaves one ear....

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Joke

chr...: Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Nostrils...?

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Devil

Re: Yeah.. No thanks

Zuck is just copying his Sith Master

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Anonymous Coward

There's an opt out...?

Opt-out instead of opt-in?

The only thing that could make this worse, is if the Facebook app transmits all of the user's photo's to the FB servers prior to processing. If it does, they'll be building up a BlackmailBook pretty damn quickly.

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Black Helicopters

Re: There's an opt out...?

Face recognition is fairly expensive, so it's hard to do in a way that would work acceptably (time, memory use, battery impact) on everything, including low-end Android kit, without sending something to a server farm. Both Android and iOS ship with face detection frameworks, but you have to use third party IP for face detection. If your Android device happens to have a Snapdragon (S4 or better) CPU, Qualcomm can help you; on iOS, you'd love to be able to get at Apple's proprietary image signal processor to do the job but, AFAICT, Apple won't let you. So what I'd do is pick out possible faces using the built-in framework, and send just those image fragments to the server farm. Less scope for blackmail, but still greater than zero.

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Re: There's an opt out...?

"Face recognition is fairly expensive, so it's hard to do in a way that would work acceptably (time, memory use, battery impact) on everything, including low-end Android kit, without sending something to a server farm."

Indeed, but that doesn't really help matters. If they try to do the work locally on your phone, it will use up all your battery. If they try to ship it off to a data centre somewhere, it will use up all your data allowance. And of course, sending data also uses up the battery to some extent. So even if people are happy with the idea of Facebook scanning everything they ever do on their phone, I can't see how anyone could actually want such a system simply because there's no way for it to work without completely fucking up the normal working of their phone.

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Re: There's an opt out...?

Are you sure face recognition is that computationally intensive or power sucking? My 3 year old Panasonic Lumix camera has a face recognition feature where you take reference shots of your family members (or anyone else) which are stored in the camera. It can then find them in a group photo and make sure they are in focus/properly exposed when the shot is taken. All processing done within the camera. Even works with pets.

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FAIL

This Zucks.

Sorry for the bad pun, but this just re-confirms my decision to never, ever, get a Bacefook account. My privacy is worth more to me than the convenience of just about everything Mark Z's service offers. Have something important to tell me? I've got a phone. Something not quite that important? Got an email address. I have no need to spread out my private life for the whole world including various secret services to peruse, and if I have something to tell a buddy... I have their phone number or email address. And public keys.

Plus, honestly? I don't have the time to check in with I don't know how many services online; Facebook, Xing, whatever else certain people expect me to be on. I'll stick with what I can reliably encrypt, thank you very much.

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Re: This Zucks.

The problem is that even if you don't have a Facebook account, your friends probably do.

And if they upload photos with you in the background, and then tag you by name, Facebook now knows who you are.

Look up Shadow Profiles, which is basically the metadata based profile that Facebook has of you based on the contents of your friends address books and posting history. They generally know your public email address, phone number, and who you associate with. It is the same tech that Linkedin uses to suggest people you might know - and you do - but have no idea how Linkedin associated you with them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This Zucks.

but have no idea how Linkedin associated you with them.

I'd hope most people round here can work that out, as it is largely by tracking multiple common contacts. If you know Joe, Steve, Helen, and those three all know Kevin, it isn't a bad guess that you might know Kevin. This works both within and outside companies, but the guess element is easily improved by adding in other common factors (eg places you worked before, industry you work in, your work specialisms, places of study.

The there's more presumptious guesswork, that if you know four people in your company's finance department, then even if they aren't showing as contacts with Roy in finance, you might still know him. Linkedin can test this out by continuously offering suggestions of other names in Finance. This then allows them to fine tune the algorythms to make them more effective. I've noticed that it even offers up names of people on functional working groups that I've been on that go across multiple industries and employers, but it tends to suggest people whose workplace specialisms are similar to mine, showing that there's multiple correlations been established.

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Headmaster

Re: This Zucks.

> Bacefook

That's awful. The correct portmanteau to us is "TwitFace"

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Re: This Zucks.

@AC.

Yes, the common contacts is obvious. But I only use Linkedin for professional connections. Where Linkedin often surprises me is "you might know" and gives me a name of someone I haven't spoken to in 20 years, have no connections in common with, and knew in a totally different context to my industry. Like my parent's friends' children.

And yes, I do know them, but how the hell Linkedin knows I do is cleverer than simply looking at email addresses or common friends.

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WTF?

@ stizzleswick -- Re: This Zucks.

My privacy is worth more to me than the convenience of just about everything Mark Z's service offers.

FacePlant offers "convenience features" to the hoi polloi? Who knew?

I'm sure all the "features" are for Fuckerberg's "convenience"...

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Vic
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Re: This Zucks.

If you know Joe, Steve, Helen, and those three all know Kevin, it isn't a bad guess that you might know Kevin

This is a problem. LinkedIn keeps asking me if I know Darl McBride...

I really want them to add a button "Yes, but he's a twat". For reasons entirely unrelated to the above, I assure you...

Vic.

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Why are they always testing this stuff in Australia?

Is the police state worse over there so the population is more docile and accepting of such privacy intrusions?

Once again I'm glad for iOS' security model that lets me prevent Facebook from accessing my photos. If I want to upload a photo to it I can give access just long enough to do so, then revoke it immediately after!

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Joke

Re: Why are they always testing this stuff in Australia?

Because the facial recognition is easier... everyone's called Bruce, or Shelia.

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Re: Why are they always testing this stuff in Australia?

Android actually has that now, finally. Only in M of course, and vendors may take it away, but it is there.

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Re: Why are they always testing this stuff in Australia?

Scale -- Australia's Facebook population is a big enough data set to be a good test, without the scale of other countries.

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Re: Why are they always testing this stuff in Australia?

"Hi Bruce. You're friends with Sheila and Bruce. They're both friends with Sheila, do you know Sheila?"

Later, talking to Sheila, "Hey, why did you add Sheila on Facebook? Bruce told me you and Sheila used to go out, are you hiding something Bruce?"

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As if Facebook don't have enough problems with the EU data protection authorities

I can predict what will happen the moment they try to let this 'feature' loose in the EU. Calling Max Schrems ...

On the other hand GCHQ and NSA will love it as they can crawl through everyone's photo archive as it is uploaded to the FB servers for processing. Gives them another chance when the user disables the Google sync on their tablet/phone.

/me orders popcorn ready for the show

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Re: As if Facebook don't have enough problems with the EU data protection authorities

Seems extremely unlikely that this feature will ever come to Europe since they (and Google) already don't do facial recognition in Europe.

https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/09/23/under-pressure-facebook-disables-facial-recognition-in-europe/

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Simple solution

Use a browser, not the app.

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Re: Simple solution

Friends don't let friends use Farcebork.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Simple solution

That's exactly what I do - partly because I don't want it accessing my contact list and partly because I don't trust it to not access anything else.

I might install the app once the android privacy settings allow me to control permissions reliably.

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Re: Simple solution

It's remarkable how, not having the app installed and only accessing it through the browser, it doesn't eat my battery, nor does it pop up alerts every 5 seconds to tell me another friend has shared that same cat video.

Now if only I could persuade the Kindle app to stop alerting me to "40 new books under £1", none of which I'm ever going to read...

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Re: Simple solution

"Now if only I could persuade the Kindle app to stop alerting me to "40 new books under £1", none of which I'm ever going to read..."

Long press the notification, go to App Info, untick the box that allows it to show notifications.

Do this for all of Amazon's apps (and any others that send unsolicited commercial messages), and you get a much nicer Android experience.

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Re: Simple solution

... and save like 400 MB on the phone, too.

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Pint

Re: Simple solution

Thanks AndyS - I clearly hadn't R'd TFM on the notifications long press thing. Most helpful.

Have one of these on me, should we chance to meet.

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