In a bit of “Photo Magic,” Facebook is testing a new feature to make it easier to share your photos with friends — before you even upload them to the social network.
Using facial recognition, Facebook Messenger will look through your newly taken photos in your phone’s camera roll to identify your friends in them.
If Photo Magic recognizes one of your friends, Messenger will immediately send you a notification to send it to the person in the photo, so you don’t have to go the extra step to message or text them later.
For Android, this bit of “magic” will happen every time you take a new photo, so your brunch buddies could receive the photos moments after you take it. For iPhone users, it will scan through your camera roll “periodically”. (We’ve asked Facebook for clarification on what periodically means.)
Facebook isn’t doing this without your permission, but you may not have realized you’ve given them permission to begin with. To use Photo Magic, you have to allow Messenger to have access to your camera roll to begin with before it sends you any notifications. If you’ve ever sent your friends a photo via Messenger, you’ve likely already opted in.
If it still sounds a little creepy to have Facebook looking through all your photos, especially as you take them, you are basically left with two options: You can turn off the send-to-your-friend notifications, and you can turn off Facebook’s facial recognition feature.
Facebook’s standalone Moments app did something similar by pulling photos from your camera roll and then sending them in batch, using the same facial recognition technology.
Facebook’s Messenger leader, David Marcus, confirmed in a post that the fast-sharing feature is currently testing in Australia before rolling out to the U.S. soon.
“Today, we’re starting to test an optional new feature to make sharing photos in Messenger even easier and more fun. People send more than 9.5 billion photos through Messenger every month, but sending photos of friends, and particularly groups of friends, is still too complicated. With Photo Magic, Messenger recognizes your friends in the photos you take and enables you to share your pictures with the friends in them in just two taps,” said a Facebook spokesperson in an email.
However, Facebook’s Photo Magic (and Moments) may not reach worldwide use any time soon. Facebook’s facial recognition tech is not used in Europe, following pressure from regulators over privacy concerns.
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