Researchers Use Facebook to Identify Passersby

Facial-recognition software makes it a breeze
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2011 2:34 PM CDT
Researchers Use Facebook to Identify Passersby
File photo   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Online privacy concerns are migrating to the real world. A researcher at Carnegie Mellon was able to identify 31% of students passing by with the help of facial recognition software, reports Mashable. First he collected 25,000 photos from Facebook profiles. Then he asked passersby to pose for a quick webcam photo. He had names for 1 in 3 in a matter of seconds. In just a few years, “facial visual searches may become as common as today's text-based searches,” says researcher Alessandro Acquisti.

His team also made an iPhone app that takes pictures of people and reveals their names and personal data. Another test compared Facebook data with dating site information and was able to identify about 10% of those on the dating site, even though they were using pseudonyms, CNET reports. It all means “ominous risks for privacy,” says Acquisti. After all, it's easy to change your name online, but not your face. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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