If a picture is worth a thousand words, the new PhotoFinder Facebook application by Face.com is saying an awful lot about you.
Photofinder will find photographs of your friends all across Facebook, and even make guesses if a given photograph isn’t actually tagged. Had no idea your mild-mannered coworker was a hardcore partier? You may come across some photos you (and they!) wish you hadn’t.
I have my privacy settings such that only close friends can see photos tagged of me, and therefore PhotoFinder is not able to display them. This is yet another reason why it’s important to understand the possible Facebook privacy settings, and decide how “transparent” you wish to be.
If the simple fact that the service is compiling all your photos from Facebook into one place isn’t enough, there are a few additional “creepy” features.
One is the ‘watch list’. You can choose to add particular friends to a watch list, so that you can more easily know when new photos have been added.
The other is the tagging feature. Even if you haven’t been tagged in a photo, PhotoFinder will attempt to identify you (complete with a percentage of certainty that it is you). Others can then verify this identification, or submit a new one. The system keeps getting smarter…
If you tag someone in PhotoFinder, it doesn’t tag them in the official Facebook interface; it is only within this application. While this may seem to be a good thing, on the contrary individuals not using the application may have no idea what their name is being associated with.
In one of the Core Conversations sessions at SxSW, we talked about this exact idea: using facial recognition to piece together information posted about people online, including cross-referencing photos on different sites (Flickr and Facebook, for example). Although I am comfortable being quite public with my blog, twitter feed, etc, the notion of my likeness being tagged and shared still makes me uneasy.
While getting a sneak peek into the lives of friends and acquaintances may sound appealing, ask yourself if you’re 100% comfortable sharing all aspects of your lives with your hundreds of facebook ‘friends’. If not, take a look at those Facebook privacy settings and make sure you’re not saying more than you intend.