Facebook is currently partnering with Luxottica, the producer of Ray-Ban and is planning on releasing its smart glasses in 2021. On Thursday, February 25th, Andrew Bosworth confirmed during a Q&A that there are considerations for including facial recognition on its smart glasses. He added that Facebook was investigating the legal consequences of using such technology, with many ethical concerns and potential abusive cases.
One obvious issue with the integration of facial recognition in smart glasses is the privacy of other people. On this issue, Bosworth stated that: “Face recognition … might be the thorniest issue, where the benefits are so clear, and the risks are so clear, and we don’t know where to balance those things.” The clear risks are those of security and stalking. Strangers could automatically identify who you are at one glance and eventually glean your email, phone number, and accounts.
This makes life extremely easy for stalkers and strangers to identify you by simply looking at your face. Facebook has not been known for keeping their users data very secure, especially visible in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. A news journalist raised a specific concern that you could no longer satisfy strangers at parties by giving them fake numbers and names. Bosworth replied that there would be a technological fix for this issue, which is storing a local database, and the problem lies in the fact that there are many tech-oriented communities that could easily use this data for malicious purposes.
The potential benefits gained from integrating facial recognition in smart glasses is recognizing people to skip an awkward moment, and prosopagnosia. Prosopagnosia is a neurological condition where you can’t recognize faces. However, these smart glasses are meant for the general public, not specifically geared towards those with this condition. As such, it enables stalkers in the general population to gain access to a powerful tool that can easily be used for malicious purposes.