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What Facebook facial recognition can mean for your privacy

As soon as you post a picture on Facebook, the social media website knows who's in that picture with you.

That's because they're collecting your information and using computer-programs for facial recognition.

Facebook isn't alone.

It's technology that will change how we live and shop, but could it go too far?

"Face biometrics is an old idea, but new in the fact that it's in the here and now", says Marios Savvides, director of the Cylab Biometrics Center at Carnegie Mellon University.

Not only does Facebook automatically know the people that could be tagged in your photos, but your phone also organizes your pictures by the faces in them.

In the future, stores could know who you are and what you might be shopping for the moment you walk in the door.


I didn't even know that was occurring", said Indea Brimage, "I don't think that's right at all."

Part of the reason for biometric data collection is to personalize your experiences and make things work easier for your specific needs.

But it's also there so advertising can be tailored to you.

Facebook even has a patent to direct ads based on your facial expressions.

"There's part of it that's kind of creepy" said Clairice Kalkhos, "but there's part of it that's necessary in a sense."

Pittsburgh attorney David Shrager believes our privacy is being taken without most of us even knowing it.

He says our laws need to catch up with our technology.

Some Facebook users have filed a class-action lawsuit against the social media giant, which has over a billion users worldwide.

And privacy experts are concerned such biometric technology could affect freedom of speech.

"You don't have the total privacy that you think you had", said Shrager, "and in this modern political time when things are very volatile, and emotions are very high, and we're so polarized, people are using this as a weapon against each other."

But scientists and engineers and CMU believe the technology will improve lives and security.

"I think people need not be scared of biometrics, of facial recognition, we do it naturally", said Savvides, "and now we're getting computer systems to be smart, to interact with us in a smarter way."

Facebook says on its website that it would never sell your information.

But right now, there are no federal laws that regulate how companies use your biometric data.