Don't try to pull a fast one — nothing gets by Facebook. The social media site just unveiled a feature that makes it increasingly difficult to post that unflattering pic of bae (even if you were attempting to hide it from him). Facebook can find your face in photos, even if you're not tagged, and it's super convenient (albeit a bit creepy).
If you took advantage of a photo op with your college BFFs, even the ones who weren't tagged (for obvious reasons), they will now receive a notification if their face appears in the image. This option is only for newly shared photos and for users who have agreed to this security setting, according to Wired. In case Apple didn't convince you, 2017 was the year of facial recognition, and it was everywhere... almost everywhere. Those in Canada and the European Union won't be able to use this new tool due to privacy regulations.
If your hometown is in the clear, here's the lowdown on what to expect: Let's say your sister shares an oh-so-lovely family photo from the holidays, but opts not to tag you because your ugly Christmas sweater is just that: ugly. Well, the joke's on her. You'll receive a notification that takes you to a new Photo Review dialog, and from there you'll have four options: to tag yourself, message the user, report an error (should there be one), or report a breach in the site's photo policy (hopefully a worse-case scenario). You are in the driver's seat, so enjoy the ride.
There's definitely a method to the madness, according to the site's team. "We’ve thought about this as a really empowering feature,” Facebook’s Head of Privacy, Rob Sherman, tells Wired. “There may be photos that exist that you don’t know about.” Let that sink in for a moment and try not to feel creeped out at the bizarre possibilities that are out there on the interweb.
But the suspense doesn't stop there. Facebook will also notify users if their untagged photos wind up in someone else's profile picture. Someone call Nev Schulman — this is a debunking tool meant for Catfish.
If this is all too much to process (and you'd rather be left in the dark about where your photo ends up) you can opt out of this feature. Facebook claims it will delete the face template used to identify you in photos, according to Wired. Although you don't have to take advantage of this, I would personally be so curious that I couldn't help but keep the possibility out there. If my best friend thinks she's going to get away with that awful selfie we took, she is sadly mistaken.
Even if you thought you were in the clear, this new feature also has the power to reach advertisers. More notifications leads to more activity, and in turn, more ad impressions. You know those companies and items you thought about once but never uttered to a single soul — yet somehow ended up in your feed — well, they're comin' back around (potentially). You cannot deny the power of facial recognition.
As of now, this is it for facial recognition features on the site, according to Wired. Who knows what the future holds (and what kind of creepy, jaw-dropping effects are headed our way). Yes this can be a bit unsettling — and maybe even a bit unwelcome — but at least the site is trying to make you as knowledgeable as possible (especially when your BFF sneakily shares that photo you told her not to).
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.