Facebook Acquires Face.com Recognition Technology

Facebook is set to acquire Face.com, the facial recognition firm it uses to tag photos, bringing its employees and technology in-house.

The deal is thought to be worth around $55-60 million in cash and stock, reports Reuters, though neither party has confirmed the details of the transaction.

The acquisition is the latest in a series of moves designed to strengthen the social network’s photo sharing feature, but Face.com has moved to reassure its developer community, stating that it will continue to be supported outside of the Facebook site.

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“People who use Facebook enjoy sharing photos and memories with their friends, and Face.com’s technology has helped to provide the best photo experience,” Facebook told TechWeekEurope. “This transaction simply brings a world-class team and a long-time technology vendor in house.”

Face.com launched its first product in 2009 and Facebook uses its technology to suggest tags for friends when users upload new photos. The social network released its own camera app last month, shortly after it announced its intention to buy Instagram in a $1 billion dollar takeover, however this is subject to regulatory approval.

“We 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,” said Face.com in a blog post. “By 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.”

The Israeli company has released a number of standalone applications, while its free API is used by a number of other developers for their products. However despite the acquisition, Face.com says it has no plans to abandon its developer community.

“We love you guys, and the plan is to continue to support our developer community,” said Face.com. “If there are new developments you can expect to hear from us here, on the developer blog, and through our developer newsletter.”

Facebook first rolled out its facial recognition features in December 2010 in the US, before introducing them elsewhere last year, but it has come under fire from privacy advocates and the European Union. It was especially criticised for changing the privacy setting which enabled the tag suggestions feature more broadly, without explicitly warning users

The social network responded by admitting that it should have been more clear about the implementation of the technology.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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