New Facebook app Facedeals scans your face to offer you deals

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Social networks

Everyone loves a discount, especially if you get the money-off code sent straight to your phone without having to do anything.

Well, that is, apart from allowing your face to be scanned.

Facedeals scan

Facedeals works like this: a camera is installed in a business, let's say a shop. The Facedeals camera scans your face when you enter the shop, checks you in on Facebook and sends your phone a text message offering you a discount or deal tailored to you, based on your Facebook 'like' history.

You'll need to install and authorise the app on Facebook first and let it map your face by scanning through your most recently tagged photos, but anything for a discount, right?

As more pictures are approved, the app 'learns' what you look like. The data is then used to identify you every time you enter somewhere with the Facedeals camera installed.

The app was developed by Redpepper using open source technology including Raspberry Pi, Arduino, OpenCV and the Facebook Graph API, and is currently undergoing trials in Nashville, US.

Here's the promotional video:

"We asked ourselves, why haven't Facebook check-ins gone mainstream? Check-ins provide a powerful mechanism for businesses to deliver discounts to loyal customers. But few businesses and even fewer customers are taking advantage of this. So we set out to evolve the check-in process by creating a seamless method for checking in and getting deals.

Facedeals is an automated check-in system using passive facial recognition to notify you of in-store deals that are customised just for you."

So what's the harm in Facedeals? After all, Facebook already uses facial recognition software and, as we reported yesterday, the TrapWire surveillance system is already being used widely across America to search databases of red-flagged individuals.

Eye, courtesy of ShutterstockFacedeals worries me. How securely will the data be stored? Can they sell on the data they've collected? What if the data gets stolen?

And what happens if this takes off and it's adopted for use in my neighbourhood?

If I install the app, from the first time the camera takes a photo of me, it will start to build up a comprehensive picture of of me. It'll know where I shop, where I bank, where I go to yoga. What about if I take a trip to the doctors? Will it post to my Facebook profile that I've checked in to my local surgery, then popped to the chemist to pick up my prescription?

It seems like once you have the app installed you don't get a choice as to whether you're scanned and checked in at each venue. It just happens automatically, so it's great for the "stalking" generation. No longer will a wife need to worry where her husband is...she'll know. And where is the freedom for teenagers when their parents can track their every move?

Would you be swayed into installing the app by a free drink or cut price shirt? Or do you value your privacy more?

Let us know in the comments below.

Eye image, courtesy of Shutterstock

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33 Responses to New Facebook app Facedeals scans your face to offer you deals

  1. Kath · 618 days ago

    A....No Way! I appreciate my privacy. I do not know everyone and their mother to know where I am and when I am there. What in God's name gives facebook the right to track me, trace me, hound me, follow me, and pull my life apart? And I thought the paparazzi was bad treating the rich and famous the way they do! This would be much worse than that and the sad part is that there are clueless people out there who will willing sign up for this. I am seriously tempted to close my facebook account.

    And as I am typing this and thinking about this, how many families with young children will be affected? You go somewhere with your children and not only is your face picked up on camera but so is your child's face. You have posted pictures of family on fb and suddenly your child has a profile roaming around "cyper photo world" and stalkers and pedophiles everywhere know where your child is, when your child will be there, how frequently, what your child likes etc.

    OMG, did the people at fb even think this one through????

    • Internaut · 618 days ago

      Hi Kath,

      You said "OMG, did the people at fb even think this one through???? "

      Me thinks profit margin is what does their thinking for them. What gives them the right, is that Big-Bro wants the same, so why not let FB do the public relations thing, get us used to the idea. or at worse, condition our children to be acceptable to it all. Then when the dust settles, and governments have made it A-OK, then the government might uncover what they have been doing - in our best interest of course.

    • Guest · 617 days ago

      Of course they thought this through! Mark Z. wants the minimum age for FB dropped! He thinks we should all "socialize" with total strangers! They don't care if your child gets kidnapped, stalked, harassed, his bottom line is what is important to him. Of course, once you get scanned, this communicates with your phone, and what handy dandy information do you already have on your phone? Bank info.? Address, other juicy details? Who's to say that when it is sending to your phone that there is not a background software running (poss. installing) to pull information from it as well? Have it hooked up to your email? Why, of course I do!! So, then maybe they start intruding into your email as well! There is no clear end in sight, unless you mean your privacy!
      The constitution does not specifically state a "right to privacy", so we are all boned. Time to go and live off the grid. And, probably too damned late to do it.

    • karma1 · 481 days ago

      complete invasion of privacy. !!!!! this is scary.

  2. Nate · 618 days ago

    Just another reason I am so glad that I got rid of Facebook.

  3. Linzi A'Fortieri · 618 days ago

    Yeah, I looooooove technology but have certain boundaries. It's already testing my limits to be so instantly available to anyone at anytime and this pushes that even further. I'm definately not comfortable with this...

  4. guest · 618 days ago

    Does it take and store your picture even if you do not have the app?

    • Matt · 618 days ago

      This was my first thought as well. Do I need to sign a vaiwer before I can enter a store or a cafe acknowledging that my face is now on their server.

      If I know of a store that did this then I would never go there.

  5. Campbell Wild · 618 days ago

    Minority Report is finally here!

  6. KRis · 618 days ago

    Didnt they do this in Minority Report?

    Scares me somewhat because you know that some day the government is going to decide they need that data....

    • InfoSec · 618 days ago

      That's exactly what I was thinking: just think of this being cross-referenced to their political 'enemies' lists.

  7. Fiona Gebbie · 618 days ago

    Big brother ......

  8. raymond dash · 618 days ago

    I think the problem here is that although you have to install the app. many people will not realise the potential and I would think facebook and the app producer will not provide enough information.

  9. Marcus Aurelius · 618 days ago

    This looks like big Brother to me! Where will these cameras be installed next: The Bedroom, the Bathroom, everywhere. If you do not mind everyone knowing your business, this also includes our Government, just say no!
    I for one, will not partake in this Facebook scheme. Is Google next.

    Marcus Aurelius

  10. pduran · 618 days ago

    Freedom for teenagers??? What the heck are you talking about? Since when did that become a concern? That's like arguing for freedom from parenting. Freedom for teenagers starts at 18, but we generally refer to them as adults and not teenagers.

    • Dexter · 617 days ago

      Freedom for teen-agers does equate with freedom from parenting. The delusion of parenting through dogmatic control is short sighted.

  11. Karen Osmon · 618 days ago

    Big Brother is all I can say. Makes me glad I don't have a smart phone!

  12. Gavin · 618 days ago

    It's not at all clear to me what happens if you are not signed up to the 'service'.

    The camera doesn't know -- it can only image EVERYONE and send either the whole picture (bad) or some biometric metadata (better) to a server somewhere to check for a match.

    But then what? Is the data for non-matches immediately discarded? Somehow I doubt it. Data tends to be more sticky than that. What assurance do people have their data is deleted if they sign up and then unsubscribe at a later time? Presumably none.

    I don't give permission for any of this. I didn't sign a EULA.

    The consumerization of facial recognition technology is a very scary reality to me -- not because this particular service is necessarily malicious, but because the unintended consequences of spreading this technology widely are simply impossible to predict at this time.

    • Internaut · 618 days ago

      I wonder - what would happen if when the camera takes the picture, if instead, I held a public domain picture of Elvis, or Monica Lewinski to the camera. Or better still, the Predator, Elmer Fudd, or Freddy Kruger. The fun is limited only to one's imagination. But after a while of that, I'm sure it will, become illegal to fudge pictures.

      Your last sentence, I think it is very predictable, or I should say, the governments are very predictable and will work Racial Recognition in to Facial Reconnaissance, for our safety of course.

      Just as it is mandatory to have one's picture taken for their DL, Passport and other "official" documents, so too will FR become the norm. It will be, IMHO, 'If you want on the Internet, the ISPs will require a photo either by them, or a recognized Notary, and, even a DNA sample swab to go with the photo. Don't forget the urine sample.

      Will we soon see underground soft/hardware designed to circumvent a lot of the Big-Bro cameras, tracking, and listening devices. One can only hope.

      I

  13. @xskydevilx · 618 days ago

    I'd take privacy over silly 'face check-ins any day!

  14. @AbsoluteBreeze · 618 days ago

    Why do people think this is facebook doing this? its not, its a third party app.

    Despite that - its still wrong on so many levels!

    And anyhow - surely it does not need a picture, your phone can report your location - so it can still perform the voucher side of the functionality.

  15. Internaut · 618 days ago

    I need an:
    anti-facial recognition app.

    anti-gps for my cell, laptop, routers and modems, and desktop

    anti-virus/trojan/spyware/

    anti-tracking for computers, credit cards, customer cards, library card, bus pass, drivers license, and air miles card.

    anti- radio and television monitoring.

    anti-google everything.

    That should do it for this month anyway, until the next Big-Bro'ware is discovered.

  16. Ja9 · 618 days ago

    Time to dump my facebook account, been thinking about it anyway, I think it is a pain in the arse. This finishes it for me. Done. Gone.

  17. Leo · 617 days ago

    That is creepy and makes me feel like we have no way to stop this. Do we have any say in this?

  18. Ryan · 617 days ago

    Maybe because it's called FACEbook

  19. Dilan · 617 days ago

    I value privacy more I guess, I don't even do the check in thing where it tells my friends when I go to a public place. I know some people like it, but I don't.

  20. John · 617 days ago

    There is a huge amount of paranoia in here. How would the wife know where the husband is? I'm not saying I like FR technology, but a lot of you will cut off your nose to spite your face. I guess that would fool the cameras.

  21. LoveMyFreedon · 617 days ago

    Thank the Lord I got rid of my FB, I did it at the beginning of the year and haven't looked back. My cell phone contract ends next month and I'm saying GOODBYE to the iPhone, I'm goin old school pre-paid style! Let's just pray this will wake some people up out of there prescription/tv/social network coma.

    [Post edited for length.]

  22. Dave · 617 days ago

    "We asked ourselves, why haven't Facebook check-ins gone mainstream?"
    - this is why

  23. Robert · 616 days ago

    FB <-> FBI

  24. Paul · 616 days ago

    If the folks in the government want to know about you, they will dedicate resources to know you intimately. Because most of us use plastic and have records available of all our transactions already this step up may not be as large as you think. Conversely, if it helped with identity theft issues and other criminal issues it would be a good thing. It is ultimately the general availability of the whole range of information that needs to be limited .... pretty much as it has always needed to be. Our 'Enemy of the State' paranoia really can be 'enemy' of anybody with access angst if we really think about it. Overall, how much privacy do you really believe you have anyway.

  25. Don · 612 days ago

    This is why I deleted my Facebook account! I don't have it on my phone but this crap is just to creepy fo me. and i'm sure they have more things in store for the folks that stay with Facebook.

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About the author

Anna Brading has worked in tech for more than ten years and as a writer with Sophos for over five. She has a love of all things social media, reading and cats (but she's not weird, honest).