He Said/She Said Between Google & CNN On Face Recognition Story

This morning I read the CNN story that said Google was finally going to incorporate facial recognition technology into its Goggles app or another mobile application. I then wrote an opinion piece that argued Google was courting a major privacy backlash, despite seeming to have privacy controls worked out in the article.

Thereafter I was contacted by Google, which said the story was pure conjecture and completely wrong. Google told me it was based on facts and statements that were extrapolated out of context by the CNN reporter.

Google was getting a retraction from CNN and asked if I would update and clarify my article based on the new information. I did. I rewrote the story.

Here’s where it gets strange and interesting. I just got a statement from CNN saying that Google was full of it:

Google’s claims do not fit the facts of the situation. This interview was prearranged – on the record – and staffed by a Google PR rep, who raised no objections at the time and did not deny what the engineer said. Additionally, we have an audio recording of the interview, as does Google. We stand firmly behind Mark’s reporting.

Recorded interview. On the record. Google PR person in the room.

Clearly the technology exists; Google’s not denying that. The question is whether the app or update to Goggles is about to be released.

He said/she said: where’s the truth? I guess we’ll find out if Google does release such a capability in the near future.

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Related Topics: Channel: Mobile | Google: Critics | Google: Mobile

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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  • Khalid

    What if this whole he said/she said thing is a huge April fools prank that’ll result in Google releasing an update to Goggles tomorrow which fakes facial recognition? Remember the translate application for animals they released one year?

  • http://goo.gl/Lf2G William J Brown

    … or “Google Goes Nuclear”, as printed tonight over at TechCrunch. Too funny! (or not)

  • http://www.seobythesea.com/ Bill Slawski

    Hi Greg

    Google did publish a patent application earlier this year (which I blogged about here – http://bit.ly/idDG9h ) which described how they might incorporate facial recognition into their visual search application.

    The patent described some possible limitations on facial searches, such as limiting results to images in the public domain, images from news sources showing celebrities, and images from people who are contacts of yours (or possibly contacts of contacts) in social networks.

    I think its technology that Google is probably capable of using now, but haven’t incorporated into Google Goggles because of the potential privacy backlash that would accompany it. Not sure the limitations described in the patent filing help define that meaningfully.

  • Slade

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about…if you want privacy then don’t create any online accounts (FB/twitter etc) …Lock yourself in your home and never go to a public space.
    what is the crime in being “recognized” ?

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