As the year is ending, Facebook is further landing itself into privacy concerns.
As reported by Business Insider, Facebook secretly built a facial recognition app for its employees that allowed them to identify people by pointing their smartphone’s camera at people.
The app was internally developed and tested between 2015 and 2016 and used the photos uploaded by the platform’s millions of users as its dataset.
The app was showcased as “developed” in 2015 and Facebook deemed it as an “example of future innovations” by the company. According to another source, the app was showcased before employees in the form of a beta version.
It allowed them to identify their colleagues as well as friends (even those who aren’t Facebook’s employees) within seconds.
Later, Facebook limited the functionalities of the app so that it can only scan and identify the Facebook friends of the employees using the app.
A Facebook spokesperson says that the facial recognition app could only identify the faces of people working at Facebook and the Facebook friends of the employees if they have turned on the facial recognition feature in their accounts.
As per Business Insider’s sources, the app had a very primitive interface. It displayed the Facebook username and profile picture of a person within three to five seconds of pointing the smartphone’s camera at them.
The app has been discontinued but it, clearly, raises privacy concerns and also gives us an estimate of how our valuable data can be used against us.
Justifying the app, a Facebook spokesperson said that it was an experimental app.
Facebook had previously garnered flak from users and privacy enthusiasts for using facial recognition on its platform. The company, then, turned off the feature by default that allowed users to use facial recognition feature for tagging their friends in the uploaded photos.