Facebook is launching a new feature for its messenger app that scans through your most recently taken photos, uses facial recognition to identify any of your friends that may be in them, and prompts you to send the image to the identified individuals.
The feature, called Photo Magic, scans a users’ most recent photos on a device’s camera roll to try and determine if they contain any of their Facebook friends. It does this using the same facial recognition technology found in the social network’s photo tag suggestion system and Moments app. Once it identifies someone, it will ask the user if they want to share the picture with that person. Agreeing to this will open a new conversation with that friend or a group message if Photo Magic identifies several different people. Facebook said users’ camera rolls will be scanned “periodically.”
"If you get a new picture, whether you took that picture in your camera app or in a different app, and it goes to your camera roll, then we'll face detect on that picture," Peter Martinazzi, product manager for Facebook Messenger, told Mashable. "Then we'll send you the local notification for you to send that photo [to friends] if you want to."
The feature will initially be tested in Australia starting today on Android and later this week on iOS. It is scheduled to expand globally over the coming months. Chief Messenger David Marcus says it will be available in the US "soon."
“What we’ve seen is that private sending of photos in Messenger is really popular. About 9.5 billion photos were sent inside Messenger in the last month. It’s growing even faster than Messenger over all, which is growing really fast,” Director of Product Management Peter Martinazzi told TechCrunch.
The feature will doubtlessly raise some privacy questions but Facebook has assured users that they will have to opt-in to enable Photo Magic. There will also be an option for users to opt-out of being detected in their friends’ photo rolls.