How Facebook Knows What You Look Like

TIME

That woman from that laundry detergent commercial, you’ve seen her before in the yogurt ad. And the clerk at the convenience store you hit up this morning, that’s right — he was the guy hitting on you at the bar last week.

Making split-second connections like these is something your brain does well. In fact, according to 2008 research out of the University of California San Diego, it only takes two quick fixations before we recognize the person we’re gazing at.

But when it comes to facial recognition, computers have to put in a lot more work to get the answer right. “Recognizing people’s faces is really easy for people to do just instinctively, but it’s actually really hard for a computer,” says Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer. Facebook uses facial recognition technology to drive its “Tag Suggestions” feature, which helps the website ID you when a picture…

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