Google recently announced that it will now be offering a face blurring tool for the video uploads on YouTube. While this has been done while taking activists and citizen journalists into consideration, the tool will not be limited for the use of dissident videos. In fact, Google has launched the face blurring tool to encourage people speak out their opinions and views, without disclosing their identity.
“Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point in your 8-year-old’s basketball game without broadcasting the children’s faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube,” wrote Amanda Conway, a YouTube policy associate in a blog post.
The YouTube’s face blurring technology is somehow similar to that used for Google Street View that blurs vehicle number plates and human faces. Users who choose to use the feature can check the video frame-by-frame to see if the blurring was effective, and can also delete the original video upload from Google’s servers. As the technology is still in its nascent stage, YouTube released a set of guidelines to help and inform users, as following:
1.Assess your risk - Videographers should understand that uploading a video online may result in unintended consequences that could put the uploader and the individuals identified in the video at risk.
2.Consider other information which may give away identity – A face is not the only feature that could identify an individual within a video, even if his or her face is blurred. Clothing, the surrounding, voices and name tags can also easily give away someone’s identity.
3.Protect yourself when uploading – Local laws may enable authorities to track the mobile device that a YouTuber uploads their video from. This threat is very real as Google has been known to comply with law enforcement in handing over the online activity of suspicious individuals.
As websites like YouTube have become ubiquitous and a top destination for news, it is even important to build tools that offer a veil of anonymity within videos. Facial recognition is just the flip side of the blurring technology, and of course inseparable. Not only Google, but Facebook too is trying to tap the numerous opportunities provided by this technology. Making efforts for the same, Facebook acquired Israel-based startup Face.com, a company that specializes in the development of facial recognition technology for mobile devices. Facebook already makes use of Face.com’s technology for the purpose of tagging and identifying other people in photos, which is one of the core elements of Facebook’s ongoing success. There are millions of untagged mobile photo uploads on Facebook as tagging is something too cumbersome for people on the go. Consequently, Facebook is missing out on a whole host of engagement opportunities, because the majority of users will immediately take notice when they are tagged somewhere. Face.com specializes in mobile facial recognition, and this will help Facebook developing the capability to provide instant tagging options to mobile photo uploads.