Facebook stepped into yet another privacy controversy this week when it was revealed that the social media giant built a facial recognition app to test on its employees and their friends. According to Business Insider, the tool was capable of identifying people in real time by simply pointing a camera at them.
The app, which was allegedly developed between 2015 and 2016, could discover a person’s name and profile picture by analyzing their face. A later version supposedly went even further, with the capability to track down anyone on the platform. The tool was discontinued soon after, and Facebook said that it was only ever tested internally.
“As a way to learn about new technologies, our teams regularly build apps to use internally,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. “The app described here were only available to Facebook employees, and could only recognize employees and their friends who had face recognition enabled.”
The Cambridge Analytica scandal last spring brought to light many of Facebook’s shady data and privacy practices, and the company has faced stern regulation ever since. Thankfully, that means invasive tools like this one have become exponentially harder for Facebook to get off the ground. Still, it’s creepy that the company was exploring this sort of technology in the first place.
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