Facebook Acquires Facial-Recognition Site Face.com

Facebook scoops up facial-recognition specialist Face.com, but raises privacy concerns in the meantime.

That€™s a lot of face. Social networking giant Facebook officially acquired the Israeli facial-recognition company Face.com, which uses face-recognition technology to scan photos and search for faces that look like the user and the user€™s friends in photos.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a report from technology blog TechCrunch quoted a source €œfamiliar with the matter€ describing the deal as a cash and stock mix that could be worth up to $60 million.

Face.com offers two Facebook applications: Photo Finder for discovering photos of people that are untagged and Photo Tagger, which streamlines photo sharing by grouping faces within an album and allows bulk-tagging of friends. For Facebook photos and users, Face.com uses the social networking site€™s platform APIs and the user's Facebook log-in credentials to mirror the Facebook privacy settings of users and their friends and gain access to information each time it is used.

€œWe love building products, and like our friends at Facebook, we think that mobile is a critical part of people€™s lives as they both create and consume content, and share content with their social graph,€ company founder Gil Hirsch wrote in a blog post on Face.com. €œBy working with Facebook directly, and joining their team, we€™ll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers€”that€™s all we€™ve ever wanted to do.€

Some organizations immediately raised privacy concerns, with the U.K. campaign group Privacy International€™s head of communications, Emma Draper, telling the BBC they are concerned about who will have access to the massive facial-recognition database Facebook is accumulating, and said they hoped €œvery strict safeguards€ would be put into effect for storing the information.

€œNow, lots of developers use Face.com technology to power various apps and make wonderful products. We love you guys, and the plan is to continue to support our developer community,€ he wrote. €œThank you to all of our supporters, our amazing [developer] community, to our employees, and to our friends and family who have seen us through many long days and longer nights. The next steps are going to be exciting for all of us.€

Facebook is having a busy, if tumultuous, year, as the company finally went public and watched its stock price plummet. This year Facebook also shelled out $1 billion for Instagram, a photo-sharing mobile phone application with approximately 30 million active users.

On April 6, Instagram announced that it was finally opening its world to Android, in addition to Apple iOS users. In half a day, the Android app was downloaded by more than 1 million users.