Poisoning the well of Facebook's facial recognition
November 30, 2013 9:07 PM   Subscribe

I don't like that Facebook knows my face, so I'm tagging myself (and asking that friends tag me) in a lot of random photos. Does this work? Any tips to do this more efficiently? Is the algorithm already smart enough to detect that something fishy is going on?
posted by Tom-B to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I think it's creepy and shady too. It might, but they may start disabling accounts of people who do this, knowing them. I deleted my FB years ago. Data mining mecca it is.
posted by OneHermit at 9:17 PM on November 30, 2013


Are you aware that you can turn off that feature in the Facebook settings?
posted by jaguar at 9:17 PM on November 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I put up a picture of a bunch of trees and mountains just today, and FB suggested I tag myself in them.

You're not wrong to be paranoid, but FB facial detection algorithm isn't that all great.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:22 PM on November 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Turn off the feature in Facebook, and ask that your friends not tag you.

In terms of facial recognition, at the moment the technology is not all that great (but it is pretty incredible as it is, all the same). For example, for Google Authorship (a neat way for writers on the web to get whatever they write ranked higher in Google, depending on the quality of what they write), you need to use a profile photo. The profile photo has to be a head shot, and it has to be you looking right into the camera. No profiles or looking up or down or whatever.

So Google Authorship is pretty finnicky about facial recognition, and if a consumer company like Google can't get it right, no one can. Yet.

Picasa actually has a facial recognition feature so that it automatically tags all photos you save on your computer (if Picasa is running) via facial features. It's a very cool feature, but it is also incredibly resource intensive and slow, so much so that I've turned it off.

So I think at this moment in time, facial recognition at a consumer level is a lot harder to implement than one might think.

If you're really concerned, don't upload your photos to Facebook, or don't use Facebook.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:33 PM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


jaguar, are you aware that a site like facebook can turn off a feature so that it is no longer visible to casual members of the public logging on, yet retain all the information behind that tagging readily available for "premium users"?
posted by bruce at 9:47 PM on November 30, 2013


> Are you aware that you can turn off that feature in the Facebook settings?
It doesn't really turn it off! It just stops auto-suggesting it to people, and allows me to review tags before they show up on my timeline. But I'm still getting tagged, and somewhere the algorithm is refining my faceprint.

> FB facial detection algorithm isn't that all great
> facial recognition at a consumer level is a lot harder to implement than one might think
I had exactly 4 pics of me, and it was enough to recognize me in a friend's photo. It's not just facial recognition, it mines relationships too.

> and ask that your friends not tag you
Assume my friends are clueless but I still love them anyway.

> don't upload your photos to Facebook
Not mine!

> or don't use Facebook.
Not an option, not the question.
posted by Tom-B at 9:52 PM on November 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


On one hand, it seems reasonable to expect that whatever algorithm they're using would be able to detect that the image selected is not-a-face.

On the other hand, it's fairly common for people to tag photos with names in order to bring the photo to that person's attention, even though the person is not in that photo. So there's probably already a large collection of tagged photos that do not show the person in question.

In my albums, FB has asked me if I wanted to tag everyone from wild turkeys to Pope Clement V as a 'friend', so I'm not that impressed with their AI.
posted by gimonca at 10:05 PM on November 30, 2013


If you want to keep your real face out of Facebook's DB, what you're asking isn't completely possible.

You can have fun with the facial recognition DB, and introduce noise into the system: Upload creative-commons stock photos of one person, and tag yourself in them. Theoretically, Facebook will have the wrong person's faceprint associated with your account.

The problem with this scheme is that FB has your friends inform on you by inviting them to 'suggest' tags. When this happens, FB will associate that faceprint with your account, even if the tag isn't user-facing. If your friends are lovable idiots, as you say, you won't be able to protect yourself from this. As well, Facebook could quite easily compare the faceprints you added against the faceprints submitted by your friends, and come to some quick conclusions.

It's tough, but the only sure-fire way to not be in the DB is by not having a Facebook account.
posted by anemone of the state at 12:41 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


All I can think of iswhat you're doing, to have as many friends as possible tag the wrong face. Maybe they should be faces of the wrong sex, age, and race, too.
posted by Jacob Knitig at 1:45 AM on December 1, 2013


Well, I think tagging rocks and trees and whatever is not only a violation of the terms of service, but is also ineffective and a waste of time. After turning off the feature and also adjusting my own personal habits, I don't seem to have any issues with facial recognition. Good luck.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:10 AM on December 1, 2013


jaguar, are you aware that a site like facebook can turn off a feature so that it is no longer visible to casual members of the public logging on, yet retain all the information behind that tagging readily available for "premium users"?

Yes, of course, so the issue is really: What problem are you trying to solve? If you're just trying to keep other users from tagging you, there are fairly easy systems in place to stop that. If you're trying to make facial recognition software not work at all just out of principle, that's pretty much a losing battle.
posted by jaguar at 9:22 AM on December 1, 2013


I meant to mention, too, there's a privacy setting where you can review all posts you're tagged in, which allows you to decide whether to allow the tag, even if someone else has posted the photo or text. If you're concerned about other people tagging you, that's the way to solve that.
posted by jaguar at 9:25 AM on December 1, 2013


I assume that your profile photo and your past profile photos give the algorithm a pretty good base line to work with. And also, facial recognition technology is nothing new. It will know what is a face and what isn't and probably disregard any tags that are clearly not a human face. Facebook is creepy as hell and has just turned into a giant data mining tool. I've disabled it for stints, but I constantly toy with wiping it out entirely.

I have turned off the ability for Facebook to suggest my tag in pictures of me, and I also have all tags set to be reviewed by me before the tag is implemented. But I seriously doubt there is anything you can do about the data that Facebook has of you already and continues to gather behind the scenes. The only way to stop it would be delete your account. Even if you review all tags and turn off auto-tagging, people are still manually tagging you and will continue to do so.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:59 AM on December 1, 2013


It will know what is a face and what isn't and probably disregard any tags that are clearly not a human face is 100% not true. I do the "tag random things in the picture to alert a human (instead of tagging their actual face)" and also just tag trees, rocks, etc. to fuck with it. After a concerted year long effort to distort my own tags, facebook is shooting at about 50% as to whether any of the auto-tags of my face are correct. It has detected my face in a drawing of wavy lines, a picture of a telephone pole with 1,000 wires hanging off it, and a picture of the Hollywood sign. I think it is civic disobedience to fuck with facial recognition software.

You are right in that it mines relationships (a picture tagged with my boyfriend's name islikely to auto-suggest tagging me too). However the tags it suggests seem to have the most weight in terms of recognizing you. So if it ever shows you a non-face and asks if it is you, say yes to ensure that more non-face pictures are recognized.
posted by holyrood at 11:14 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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