EU vetoes Facebook Moments… for now

Facebook has received a series of complaints in recent weeks that have sought to challenge its latest app, Facebook Moments. The new app was launched on 15 June 2015 in the US and has (or had) plans to expand across the Atlantic. The purpose of Moments is to allow friends and family to share photos with one another. Facebook’s Product Manager, Will Ruben, explains how the Moments app will act as a shared forum full of pictures. Instead of taking the same group photo five different times on five different phones, or fretting about losing your camera at the wedding of the year, Ruben urges everyone to download Moments. The app provides a new network to share these photos in confidence. It may sound somewhat similar to iCloud, but Moments is available to both iOS and Andriod users – which keeps everyone happy.

So what’s the problem? The app has received much criticism for violation of privacy and is currently prohibited to download in Europe. Moments uses highly accurate face recognition technology to name its users which has alarmed EU regulators. Similar technology was introduced in 2010 but Facebook was forced to switch it off in 2012 after complaints. Regulators have insisted that the app needs an opt-in (or opt-out) feature for its facial recognition technology, to abide by European data protection guidelines.

It’s not the first time Facebook has come under fire this month. Belgium’s Privacy Commission made the decision to take Facebook to court over privacy breaches after a report accused the site of tracking users’ online activity outside of its own domain.

Facebook however, is proud of its technological capabilities. It announced earlier this year that its DeepFace AI system (used to identify users) possesses an accuracy level of 97.25 per cent. There are plans to go further and develop software to identify even the most blurred faces. Researchers from Facebook’s artificial intelligence team tested its newest method on 37,000 photos. While the snaps were purposely blurred it achieved 83 per cent accuracy on 581 different faces.

It is unclear as to how long it will be until Facebook Moments reaches European shores. But what is clear is that Facebook continues to encroach upon people’s privacy. Despite the accusations and court cases, the social media giant remains at the top of its game. Its technology capabilities, membership and revenue continually increase year on year. What more will it take to curb Facebook privacy violations?