Thursday, December 8, 2011

Google+ Do You Recognize My Face?

As a college student, you wear many hats (so-to-speak, and maybe literally too). You have your social life which involves going out and party on the weekends among other things, your school life, which revolves around studies, and your family life, which is pretty tame. On the web, those three worlds can often collide. Mom friends you on Facebook, your friends tag you in embarrassing photos and you post interesting tidbits that you’ve learned while doing a research paper. Most people are pretty good at managing these parts of their lives without any security breaches. But, what happens when they release facial recognition software onto the interwebs? My guess is, all hell will break loose.

The folks at Google have that technology down, but for the moment (fortunately for us), they are using it responsibly. If you’re a member of Google+, you can decide if you want to enable facial recognition software for your account. If you decide to enable it, Google will scour your friends’ accounts for pictures of you. When it finds them, you’ll automatically be tagged. I can’t imagine it’s always perfect, but it’s a pretty intriguing concept. Actually, I can’t wait to try it. Unfortunately, my friends haven’t made their way to Google+ just yet.

Interestingly, Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google disclosed during an interview that the facial recognition software is the first software Google ever held back from release for fear of misuse. It’s a really interesting concept. I don’t doubt that they can scour the entire web for pictures of me if they can find them in the Google+ userbase. I’m just intrigued to see what’s out there. But, like most people, I’ll probably want to recover any old pictures that are dug up. I have to say, though, I just glad this wasn’t around when I was in college. Not to make myself sound too old, but most cell phones didn’t even have cameras back then, so I should be pretty safe.

It’s an interesting time that we live in. It all just makes you realize that anything you do can end up on a social network like Google+ or Facebook, and there are more and more ways that it can be associated back to you. I guess that old advice “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” has a little more meaning these days. But on the other hand, I can really see the benefit to this facial recognition software for anyone who is currently in college learning how to become a CIA agent. It will be really hard for criminals to hide from the law with so much technology around. 

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