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The Facial Recognition App That Could End Public Anonymity in Russia

Things are getting weird.

Moscow’s famous Red Square. (Photo: Christophe Meneboeuf/CC BY-SA 3.0)

A new app that has already amassed over half a million users in Russia claims to be able to identify strangers on the street using just their photo, according to the Guardian

The app, called Findface, is 70 percent reliable, its makers say. FindFace scours the Russian social network Vkontakte to match up faces, before presenting users with the most likely hit, in addition to 10 that are the most similar. Vkontakte has over 200 million users, and Findface’s founders say that they have developed a unique algorithm that makes it quickly searchable and matchable. 

“With this algorithm, you can search through a billion photographs in less than a second from a normal computer,” Alexander Kabakov, a co-founder, told the Guardian

But that’s also where things get a little weird. It’s not hard to imagine the (potentially bad) law enforcement uses for such a technology, but Kabakov also says it could change how people date. 

If you saw someone you were attracted to, he says, you could snap a picture, learn their identity, and maybe send them a message. 

“It also looks for similar people. So you could just upload a photo of a movie star you like, or your ex, and then find 10 girls who look similar to her and send them messages,” Kabakov tells the Guardian.

Those are definitely all things you could do. 

See it in action here: