Even bigger Big Brother: Facebook purchases Israeli facial recognition company Face.com
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
The readers End the Lie will likely in no way be surprised by the news that Facebook has purchased the facial recognition startup Face.com since Facebook has come under fire from European regulators for revealing a massive facial recognition database and been busted for spying on the text messages of smartphone users, showing a complete disregard for privacy.
If you continue to use Facebook in a state of ignorant bliss, hopefully this will help you wake up to the reality of what this internet giant is really up to.
A Facebook spokesperson put it, this acquisition seems purely logical and perfectly in line with their business model.
“People who use Facebook enjoy sharing photos and memories with their friends, and Face.com’s technology has helped to provide the best photo experience,” said the Facebook spokesperson to VentureBeat. “This transaction simply brings a world-class team and a long-time technology vendor in house.”
It also greatly enhances their facial recognition capabilities which Facebook will also most likely be applying to all photos captured by the other company recently purchased by Facebook: Instagram.
The privacy issues inherent in Faceboook’s move to snatch up Face.com are so blatant and impossible to ignore that even InformationWeek has raised the issue in an article entitled, “Facebook Buys Face.com: At What Privacy Cost?”
The actual terms of the deal between Facebook and Face.com have yet to be disclosed to the public but the previous reports released on the subject have placed the purchase price somewhere in the neighborhood of $80-100 million.
The pending deal is expected to come to be closed at some point in the next few weeks.
Face.com, which is a relatively new company founded in and based out of Israel, boasts some of the most cutting-edge consumer facial recognition technology which can not only identify people but also guess the age of a person in the photo.
One of their products is a camera application for iOS (which runs on iPhones and iPads) called KLIK which uses Face.com’s facial recognition technology to automatically tag their Facebook friends in photographs.
Reuters reports that a third-party Facebook application tracking service called AppData has reported that KLIK boasts 40,000 monthly active Facebook users.
“We love building products, and like our friends at Facebook, we think that mobile is a critical part of people’s lives as they both create and consume content, and share content with their social graph,” said Face.com CEO Gil Hirsch.
“By working with Facebook directly, and joining their team, we’ll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers — that’s all we’ve ever wanted to do,” he added.
Reuters also reports that Facebook has quickly acted in an attempt to improve their image after the somewhat failed public launch by making some well thought out purchases and hires.
Facebook recently purchased Karma, a mobile “gifting” application, as well as iOS developers Pieceable Software and there have also been reports of Facebook investigating acquiring Opera for their mobile browser.
While all of this might sound fine and dandy, I would encourage my readers to consider the privacy implications as well.
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