Facebook has brought its Moments app to Europe and Canada, but with some tweaks. In its new iteration for these regions, the photo-tagging system has much less robust facial recognition capabilities.
It’s a striking change given the central role that facial recognition played in the original app, which scans the faces of individuals in pictures uploaded to Facebook, and then automatically tags the people it’s able to identify. This kind of technology has landed Facebook and other companies into legal trouble in the US, and concerns about further issues kept Facebook from launching Moments in Europe and Canada when the app was released elsewhere last year.
Now, the company has tweaked its technology to comply with EU and Canadian privacy regulations. It still looks for similar features between faces in order to find tagged users in multiple pictures, but it requires users to manually tag the individuals in the pictures they upload first, and facial comparisons are done on the user’s smartphone, and not on Facebook servers. The result is a somewhat less efficient photo-tagging system that requires a bit of extra work from the user.
But it’s a system that complies with European and Canadian privacy laws and allows the Moments app to launch in those markets, and as Facebook continues to deal with a biometric privacy lawsuit at home in California, this is probably its best compromise for the moment.
May 12, 2016 – by Alex Perala