Aboriginals in Austrailia (www.humanrights.gov.au).
by Steve Timmer
Jul 5, 2013, 11:00 AM

Maybe a photograph will steal your soul

It is a primitive idea that having a photograph taken of yourself will steal your soul:

Ancient  peoples, tribal animists often have the belief that capturing images of a person gives you a magical control of them just like knowing their ‘real’ name.  Others believe that it somehow steals the soul, captures the spirit. This is why some are quite worried about being photographed.

These people are onto something.

Perhaps some of you have already encountered the new “feature” on Facebook. You upload a photo to Facebook with a filename that contains no person’s name. Maybe it is a group shot with several people in it, and consequently the size of faces is small. As soon as the photo is uploaded, Facebook places squares around faces, sometimes several of them in a group photo, and invites you to “tag” them. Upload a photo with a dozen or more faces from a crowd, and squares will appear around lots of the faces in the group.

For some of the “squares,” Facebook offers some name suggestions without bidding (maybe “friends” or “friends of friends,” I’m not sure). If it doesn’t, you can just start at the letter “A” and go through the alphabet, and almost certainly before you are through, Facebook will supply a name or names, with photos to compare; just pick the right one. Go ahead, try it.

But this happens almost instantly after you upload the image. If Facebook can do this, imagine what the Department of Homeland Security or the NSA can do.

You don’t have to tag somebody, but faces that are squared for tagging are clearly known to Facebook; you’re just confirming the identity by tagging. Most of the time, this is innocuous stuff, but it demonstrates the power of facial recognition software.

It is, kids, a brave new world, but perhaps one our aboriginal friends understood.

Update: Sidekick Tony says the feature has existed for a while, but I’ve never had Facebook put squares around faces unbidden before. But Tony is undoubtedly right.

Thanks for your feedback. If we like what you have to say, it may appear in a future post of reader reactions.