Facebook developing way to fingerprint the camera you used to take a photo

So you think you’ve got Facebook’s privacy and security features figured out? Think again. The social network has filed a patent detailing work it’s doing on image fingerprinting that could identify you based not on any physical characteristics, but by the characteristics of your camera. Facebook thinks it could use this system to identify which photos are yours, even if they are uploaded to another account. It’s only a patent, but it’s a pretty crazy one.

According to the patent application, Facebook’s platform would use factors like lens scratches, faulty pixels, color bleed, and image artifacts to create a fingerprint for a camera. It could then identify all images taken by that particular piece of hardware, and thus by you. It might not be as unique as a real fingerprint, but it could be more than good enough to make a match when combined with signals like location data, file naming conventions, and facial recognition.


Facebook suggests in the patent that this system could be used to track down fraudulent accounts or multiple accounts owned by a single user (which isn’t allowed). Being a social network, Facebook also wants to use this system to reinforce connections between users. Camera fingerprinting might be used to offer potential connections or events to a user.

This all sounds like very cool technology, but could come off as supremely creepy in practice. If Facebook knows you took a picture, but it shows up in someone else’s account, it immediately knows you have a connection to that person. Facebook might even be able to crawl the web and find more photos you’ve taken. Is this creepy enough that Facebook will hold off? We did get used to facial recognition, so maybe we’d get used to this too.

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