As the world advances towards better ways of securing the environment around them and us, it also leads us towards the very flaws of those advancements and how they can be used against us.
What is Facial Recognition?
Facial recognition is where a human face is recognized using technology. It uses biometrics to map facial features from a photograph or video and compares the information with the database of known faces to find a match. Where facial recognition can help verify personal identity to reduce potential risks, it also raises a serious privacy issue.
The facial recognition market is expected to grow to $7.7 billion by 2022, as it has all kinds of commercial applications. From being used for marketing products to conducting surveillance, the data can be used for anything that helps augment our processes.
There are companies today that are eagerly gathering millions of images for this very purpose. For example, Clearview AI can identify the person in a picture that someone uploads to its service as it has more than 3 billion images scraped from websites like Facebook, YouTube, Venmo, Google, etc.
Learn more about how does facial recognition technology work and what privacy concerns can arise with this technology.
How to Secure Yourself from Facial Recognition?
A more straightforward step towards securing your privacy can be to turn off facial recognition. But that does not stop companies from gathering your facial data.
This is because when you search your name on Google, several of your pictures will appear – it can merely be a profile picture from when you were on a sports team in college or photos you use on various social networks. This means a large part of these pictures are gathered from Google and Facebook.
I agree that stopping Facebook and Google’s ability to recognize your face won’t enough on its own, but it’s at least a step closer to something than sitting around and doing nothing.
Facebook has a setting that can recognize your face so that you are automatically suggested as a tag in pictures/videos when your friends upload. To disable that feature, you follow these steps:
- Open Facebook in a browser
- Tap the down arrow on the top right of the page
- Click “Settings”
- Choose “Face Recognition” from the left side.
- Next to “Do, you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos?” select No.
Read more on how Facebook is working on a mandatory facial recognition identity verification.
Google photos also recognize faces, including yours, when you upload pictures. This feature is called “Face Groups.” This comes in quite handy when you want to search through thousands of images for a specific person.
But this also means that contacts on Google (that is created through Gmail) can even recognize your face in their albums automatically. To stop Google from accepting your face, you can disable the feature by:
- Open photos.google.com on your computer
- Click “Menu” on the top left of the page
- Choose “Settings”
- Next to “similar group faces” click the down arrow
- Turn off “Help contacts recognize your face”
All that we discussed is a way to make the advanced “security” systems a little more secure for us. However, none of this is foolproof.
We cannot know for sure how companies gather our facial information, and neither is there any guarantee that turning facial recognition features off for Facebook, and Google will stop them from gathering our facial information.
The only way it could be possible is to try and remove all your profile pictures from every single public profile you have on the web. You can do so by Googling your name and seeing what images pop up. You can change your profile pictures to something that’s not you – like a cartoon?
Or, if you would like a more permanent solution, then that would be to go off the grid entirely by deleting your accounts on Facebook and Google, and preferably every other social public platform as well.
If you’re tired of knowing about 24/7 surveillance and your privacy being at risk all the time, you might consider deactivating Messenger, deleting Messenger or deleting your Facebook account altogether.