Facebook developed an internal app that recognized employees and pulled up their profiles, but privacy concerns might've led to its discontinuation.
Facebook discontinued an internal app that let employees direct their mobile devices at another person and identify them using facial recognition.
The app, according to Business Insider, entered development in 2015 and continued to earn attention from software engineers through 2016. It has since been left in the dark, though. Facebook confirmed its testing but didn't offer an exact reason as to why the technology didn't roll out in a public feature. Maybe it didn't perform as expected, or perhaps privacy concerns among users caused the discontinuation.
By using the built-in camera on a mobile device, Facebook would scan an individual's face. The app would then display a name and profile based on who it saw. Unfortunately, the report didn't claim how accurate Facebook's technology was during development.
"As a way to learn about new technologies, our teams regularly build apps to use internally," a Facebook spokesperson told CNET. "The app described here were only available to Facebook employees, and could only recognize employees and their friends who had face recognition enabled."
Facial recognition is part of Facebook today. Users who opt-in can be automatically identified in photos and videos. Facebook analyzes content and tries to figure out who appears, which friends use to easily tag others rather than manually typing out names. The feature can be turned off at any time, and Facebook will delete its 'template' of your face.
Portal, the smart display line Facebook introduced last year, can track faces but not recognize them. Previous reports suggest the company did explore full-blown facial recognition on Portal devices.
It's very likely that privacy concerns drove Facebook's decision to shelve the internal app. Consumers and lawmakers don't feel the social network handles user data appropriately, and last year Facebook found itself at the center of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook recommitted to privacy earlier this year, but it'll take time to notice any changes.