Chinese search engine Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) is reportedly testing a facial recognition search engine. TechWeb reports that the search engine allows users to either upload or paste an image into it and then search for other images with that face in them online.
The new facial recognition search engine seems to do well with photos of well-known celebrities, although TheNextWeb reports that it seems to have problems with people who aren’t very well-known. Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) does also offer a customized version of the facial recognition feature that will be used to locate people who have disappeared in China.
There is a chance that Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU)’s new search engine could also be used by online communities such as Sina Weibo, where the term “human flesh search engine” has become popular. Many users of these communities use the web to find people and then expose or shame them in some way. Other uses for this type of search could be as innocent as trying to figure out the name of someone who appears in a viral video or other piece of online content.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has avoided implementing a facial recognition search engine because of the possibility that it could be misused. However the search giant did add its Find My Face feature to Google+, enabling users to search for their own face. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) worked to ensure the privacy of users by making it an opt-in feature and adding approvals.
The Chinese government said it is working to ensure the privacy of Internet users in the country while also approving regulations which make it more difficult for users to operate anonymously by requiring registration using real names for online services.