Facebook.com acquires facial recognition startup Face.com

Facebook has recently acquired Israeli startup Face.com for an undisclosed sum. AFP reports that Face.com in a blog post had hinted on a focus on developing products to improve user experience among Facebook members who are “increasingly using smartphones or tablets to interact with the service” but that Facebook “has yet to show how it plans to make money from the lifestyle shift”.

In the lead up to its IPO last May, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had grilled Facebook management on its plans to exact more revenue from users accessing their services through mobile devices.

“Assuming that the trend toward mobile continues and your mobile monetization efforts are unsuccessful, ensure that your disclosure fully addresses the potential consequences to your revenue and financial results rather than just stating that they ’may be negatively affected,’” the agency wrote to Facebook on Feb. 28.

The acquisition of Face.com is evidently the start of concrete steps Facebook is taking to address this affront to the gods of revenue growth that Wall Street bows to. Since the 18th May float of Facebook shares, its market value had sustained a consistent slide, losing about 30 percent of its value. Analysts trace investors’ lack of confidence in the value of the social media giant to a general uncertainty around how Facebook plans to further “monetiseng” its vast network of users.

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Facial recognition that is integrated into photo capture and sharing apps running off mobile phones raises some interesting scenarios. As people take more and more photos in the midst of increasingly trivial activities, the likelihood of your being inadvertently captured in the background of a random photo and your face recognised by one such app online and your location and circumstance at that moment (say, related to the context of the person’s whose photo you ended up in) stored in a database somewhere will become more likely and more frequent.

In effect, facial recognition technology unleashed over a vast Internet social network accessed by millions of mobile devices would be like distributing millions of devices that can detect, evaluate, and identify every single fingerprint on a surface that their wielders simply point them to then store these in a big database that keeps track of every location said fingerprints are detected.

Perhaps Facebook may eventually fail on its promise to turn its billions of captured eyeballs into enough advertising revenue to keep Wall Street happy. But its shareholders may need fear not. There are people — and governments — willing to pay a lot for the sort of data it may be collecting soon.

One Reply to “Facebook.com acquires facial recognition startup Face.com”

  1. BenignO: Facebook, of course, will have to address the privacy concerns associated with facial recognition technology:


    And here’s the comment the Center for Democracy and Technology submitted to the FTC (2011):


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