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Facebook fesses up to Face.com face finder financing

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Facebook has confirmed the acquisition of Israeli facial-recognition software vendor Face.com for an undisclosed sum.

Face.com software is already in use on Facebook in the Photo Finder app, which scans untagged images and tries to match the subject to the social network's 901 million claimed account holders. Coupled with the $1bn purchase of Instagram that Mark Zuckerberg personally rammed through, the deal shows Facebook's increasing ambitions in getting to know pretty much everyone.

"Our mission is and has always been to find new and exciting ways to make face recognition a fun, engaging part of people's lives, and incorporate remarkable technology into everyday consumer products,' said Face.com CEO Gil Hirschon on the company blog.

"By working with Facebook directly, and joining their team," he continued, "we'll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers – that's all we've ever wanted to do."

Hirschon assured third-party developers that the company would continue to support the REST API, which allows the recognition technology to be embedded. Further updates on developer status would come later on, he promised.

Facebook has had a rocky history when it comes to facial recognition technology. In 2011 it stealthily turned on such (rather faulty) software by default, igniting a storm of protest from users, threats of legal action over privacy violations from the German authorities, and a ruling from the EU.

Google, which has been making its own investments in facial recognition technology for the Google+ network, has installed similar features for finding untagged images of people. In light of the Facebook fracas, the Chocolate Factory wisely opted to leave it off by default. ®

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