People tagging on Facebook

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a big proponent of geotagging. As I’ve gotten deeper into Facebook, I’ve also become a big fan of people tagging.

People tagging allows you to uniquely identify people in pictures. Tagging can also be a collaborative effort. When I’ve uploaded pictures with people I don’t know, my friends have filled in the gaps.

Viewers can rollover the picture and the names are displayed.

It’s surprisingly addictive and it forms the basis of the real power of Facebook photos. More on that later.

It also raises privacy issues, beyond those that I discussed yesterday. On flickr, I deliberately don’t include last names because I don’t want the pictures to be searchable in general purpose search engine. I’ve been more comfortable uniquely identifying people in Facebook’s more closed environment.

Still, I wonder about the database that I’m helping to create. Given the enormous popularity of Facebook photos — it’s the number one photo sharing site — it’s likely that Facebook has the largest privately held database of individually identifiable pictures in the country. It would make a great training set for image recognition software. You’ve got uniquely identifiable people in a variety of situations and camera angles.

So far, most public efforts at image recognition haven’t been very successful. Riya, which started out as a visual people search tool, used tags and other metadata to help improve the results. Even that wasn’t good enough. Riya has largely refocused on identifying merchandise.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
This entry was posted in facebook, flickr, photography, privacy, social networking, web 2, web 2.0. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to People tagging on Facebook

  1. Pingback: The power of the social graph « reDesign

  2. Tyler says:

    Yep, there are definitely privacy issues around it. Thankfully some of us, like you, have a clue enough not to use last names on Flickr.

    Today I realized that I’ve been ID’d all over some random guy’s Flickr set. I don’t even know him. I sent him an email hoping he’ll be nice enough to take them down though.

  3. nice post, It is also relevant tagging on facebook boost business to tag business partners or even your business.

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