New Facebook AI fools facial recognition

Facebook is both embroiled in privacy struggles over its use of facial recognition, to spread it far and wide, and coming up with ways to flummox the technology so it can’t match an image of a person to one stored in image databases.

On Sunday, Facebook Research published a paper proposing a method for using a machine learning system for de-identification of individuals in videos by subtly distorting face images so they’re still recognizable to humans, but not to machines.

Other companies have done similar things with still images, but this is the first technology that works on video to thwart state-of-the-art facial recognition systems.

Here it is in action, with before and after videos of celebrity faces that many of us will recognize but that automatic facial recognition (AFR) systems can’t identify:

This, from the holder of the world’s biggest face database?

Why would Facebook do this, when it’s been so keen to push facial recognition throughout its products, from photo tag suggestions on to patent filings that describe things like recognizing people in the grocery store checkout lines so the can automatically send a receipt?

An approach that’s resulted in bans of facial recognition in Europe and Canada, and at least one, $5 billion class action lawsuit?

Facebook last month turned off the default setting for tag suggestions the feature that automatically recognizes your friends’ faces in photos and suggests name tags for them while also expanding facial recognition to all new users.

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