* To ferret out fakes. In my ongoing research into Facebook fakes, it seems a lot of FB bot operators lazily reuse the same photos over and over again. Routine facial recognition scans could put the kibosh on those pretty quickly.
* To suggest friends. If a photo can predict age and mood, what’s to say it can’t predict other affinities between users? Blondes may be attracted to other blondes and shun brunettes, for example. Facebook’s own “People You May Know” algorithms are fairly flawed, and these guys aren’t exactly shy about using your data in any way you’ll let them.
* To help law enforcement. Make no mistake, if the technology is available and a law enforcement agency wants to run a facial scan on Facebook members to find people hiding under aliases – or even family law attorneys seeking deadbeat dads – it’s going to happen. All it requires is the proper paperwork.
* For data mining. Let’s face it: We’re all getting tossed into buckets created by data miners seeking correlations between data point A and data points B, C, and D. If you “Like” certain brands, you are more likely to like other brands – this much we already know – and thus will see different ads based on that data. So why would photos be treated any differently?
If people with crooked noses and buck teeth prove to big fans of tramp stamp tattoos and Captain Morgan Rum, they’re probably also big fans of Jim Beam and Little Debbie snack cakes – and will likely see ads for all of those things, even if they never clicked “Like” on any of them.
Likewise, if people whose photos display male pattern baldness and narrow-set eyes tend to be 5.2 percent more likely to issue fraudulent insurance claims, you might find yourself also denied insurance, you rodent faced baldy, and never know the reasons why.
Ultimately it’s all just data, used in ways most mortals have no idea about but banks, insurance companies, and advertisers are keenly interested in.
Are there nastier more paranoid implications one can draw from all this? You bet. But I’ll leave those for another time. I can’t face them at the moment.