The New Reason to Quit Facebook -- Now!

social security cardIf you're a regular Facebook user, you know that whenever you upload photos, the social network is SO smart that it actually starts guessing who you might want to tag in the photos. As long as they're also on Facebook, the facial recognition software actually recognizes your Aunt Mallory's, your sister's, your high school BFF's faces! It seems like a convenience at first, right? But then ... suddenly, when you're tagging PILES of photos, and Facebook can spy your sister's boyfriend in the BACKGROUND of a blurry iPhone pic, it starts to feel a little too Big Brother-y, a little Minority Report

It makes you think ... agh, I should quit Facebook!

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But I can't. I bet you can't either.

Even though the creepiness only gets worse. Consider the findings of a recent study done by a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He used "off-the-shelf facial recognition tools," then applied them to publicly-available (aka what most of us have) Facebook profile pics. When he used the software on 5,800 dating site profiles, he was able to identify those same people's Facebook profiles in 4,900 cases!

The software also led him to these people's names, friends, and even social security numbers. Now, are you sufficiently freaked out?

We've been nervous about what a drain on our privacy social networks have been since day one, and it seems like the situation only gets more extreme all the time. It is totally crazy that a stalker, a hacker, or criminal of any sort could use run-of-the-mill software to pinpoint our personal info from our profile pics! But until it happens to someone we know ... or even then, we're probably not going to be willing to give up Facebook.

I know I won't. See, it's just too much a part of my everyday life. I interact with friends on Facebook walls, and I talk with complete strangers on fan pages for various things (usually jewelry, specifically Jewelmint, my not-so-secret jewelry club obsession). I send messages using Facebook, and I catch up on what family and friends are doing or interested in. I plan to use Google+ in the same way, and there are MULTIPLE profile pics of me on there! 

I can't really put my finger on why this news won't really scare us, even though it should. Maybe it's just that, like the phone, TV, and Internet itself, social networks have become too integral to our lives to give up? Of course, I hope that Zuck and the Silicon Valley guys think of something fast to protect us against compromised privacy. But it won't make or break our devotion to sharing almost everything -- even if it's just our face -- with "virtual friends."

Does this facial recognition software study make you think twice about staying on Facebook?


Image via DonkeyHotey/Flickr

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