Google advanced into the social facial recognition technology about four weeks before the end of 2011. Specifically on December 8, 2011, Google unveiled their Find My Face tool for tagging faces of users on their social network, Google+.
Much like Facebook’s Photo Tag Suggest, Find My Face will scan through your photos and those of your friends and detect similar faces. The tool will then suggest the likely names of the people in those photos. According to Matt Steiner, Engineering Lead on the Google+ Photos team, they had to launch the Find My Face feature before the end of the year to make photo tagging easy for their users during the holiday. Since old friends would be getting back together; families will be organizing dinner parties and so on, Find My Face will make it easy for users to tag important photos taken during the season.
Impressively, Google has made this feature voluntary (opt-in) for its users unlike Facebook which enabled the feature for all its users. Obviously, Google is trying as much as possibly to inculcate privacy into its social network in order to avoid the mistakes made by Facebook. Secondly, they have made the Find My Face feature such that you can decide which tags to accept or decline.
When Find My Face is turned on for your profile, Google+ will be permitted to prompt people you know to tag your face wherever it appears in their photo. That means your friends can tag you if you appear in their photos, and you can tag your friends in your photos if they have activated Find My Face. However this feature will not be automatically enabled for Google+ users, but it can be turned on and off in Google Plus settings.
Earlier this year, specifically in June, the CEO of Google (Eric Schmidt) proclaimed Facial Recognition software as too dangerous to implement. He said they had developed the tool but were reluctant to implement it because of inherent risks. The fact that Facebook successfully used the technology for its millions of users is possibly the reason Google eventually decided to foray into the realm of facial recognition technology. Eric Schmidt explained that the technology can be used for very mischievous activities. Hence, Google+ made it possible to accept or reject photos where you are tagged.
The Major Differences between Facebook Photo Tag Suggest & Google+ Find My Face
The major differences between Find My Face of Google+ and Photo Tag Suggest of Facebook are basically privacy and security. First, Find My Face has been made an opt-in feature. So if you are skeptical of allowing others to tag you in their photos, you don’t necessarily have to activate the feature unlike Facebook where you have to deactivate the feature (opt-out) if you are uncomfortable with the feature. Secondly, photos where you are tagged do not go live on Google+ network until you accept them unlike Facebook Photo Tag Suggest where the tags go live before you are notified.
All in all, Google+ Find My Face is a tool many users are very eager to explore. Photo tagging itself seems like the digital alternative to writing names at the back of photographs. However, the ubiquity of the Web makes this feature impinge on the privacy and security individuals.
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