Facebook has acquired Face.com, a facial recognition technology company, for a rumoured $60m.
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It is thought Facebook has bought the Israeli start-up in a bid to improve its photo tagging service as Face.com’s speciality is mobile facial recognition. This type of technology, when applied to Facebook’s mobile apps, could mean that when members of the social network upload an image via their phone, they could instantly receive suggestions of whom to tag and confirm the identities of their friends with one click.
Facebook bought the company, with a mixture of cash and stock. All Face.com employees will now work for Facebook. However, the other terms of the deal were not disclosed.
More than 300 million new photos are added to Facebook every single day. Facebook has recently prioritised mobile and photo-sharing as key to its future through its $1bn purchase of Instagram (a deal which is still awaiting regulatory approval) and the launch of Camera, a stand-alone photo app.
Last June Facebook angered its users and security experts by turning on a similar facial recognition technology by default across its website, without telling its members first. The ‘Suggest photos of me to friends’ feature is located in the company’s privacy settings. Facebook users need to click on ‘customise settings’ before being able to disable it.
Graham Cluely, of the British internet security firm Sophos, said at the time: “Unfortunately, once again, Facebook seems to be sharing personal information by default. Many people feel distinctly uncomfortable about a site like Facebook learning what they look like, and using that information without their permission.
“Most Facebook users still don’t know how to set their privacy options safely, finding the whole system confusing. It’s even harder though to keep control when Facebook changes the settings without your knowledge.”
A Facebook spokesman said of the Face.com deal: “People who use Facebook enjoy sharing photos and memories with their friends. Face.com’s technology has helped to provide the best photo experience. This transaction simply brings a world-class team and a long-time technology vendor in house.”
Gil Hirsch, the founder of Face.com, wrote the following on the company’s blog about the purchase: “Our mission is and has always been to find new and exciting ways to make face recognition a fun, engaging part of people’s lives, and incorporate remarkable technology into everyday consumer products. 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.”
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