Facebook has launched new tools powered by its facial recognition tech -- the same one that suggests friends to tag in photos. To start with, it has beefed up the alternative text feature it rolled out last year, which describes a photo's contents for people using a screen reader. For instance, the original version of the tool would describe a friend's photo with the words "may contain: tree, sky, sea." The enhanced version will include those and the names of people who could be in the photo even if they aren't tagged. Facebook's facial recognition can be pretty hit and miss, but the names can give visually impaired users a fuller view of the picture.
The platform will also start notifying users when its face recognition tech recognizes them in pictures (again) even if they're not tagged, unless they're not part of the audience. Finally, it will start sending out notifications when someone else uploads users' photos as profile pictures. Facebook hopes this last tool can help prevent scammers from using other people's identities, especially for those who use the platform to conduct business.
To make things simpler, the social network will roll out a single on/off switch for all these features. Unfortunate for those who only really like one of them, but great for those don't want to deal with tweaking their settings. The switch will roll out worldwide the next few days, except in Canada and Europe where Facebook doesn't have facial recognition on offer. It will automatically be set to "off" for users who've disabled tagging, but it can easily be switched on anytime.