Last week, there was a public backlash about two recent Apple discoveries. The first was that Apple uses image recognition to tag people’s pictures including “bra” photos. The second was that Apple will make some facial recognition data available to third-party app developers. Both were considered invasive by customers, journalists and privacy experts.
It’s not surprising that people are freaked out. Though Apple has a strong reputation for protecting people’s privacy and even launched a privacy website recently in an effort to reassure people about the security of their products; they miscalculated people’s comfort level with emerging image and facial recognition technology.
When Keepsafe surveyed 500 US mobile social media users in June, we discovered that 80% were uncomfortable with services that used facial recognition and almost half said they’d turn it off if given the choice. Our survey also revealed that people are so concerned with their image privacy that 50% delete sensitive photos from their phone. While Apple, no doubt, considered the implications of using image recognition and tagging in its Photos app, facial recognition to unlock its iPhone X phone and making some of that data available to third-party developers, they neglected to consider how people might react.
Some features are developed at the cost of privacy. Apple put its product roadmap before its customers’ concerns about image and facial recognition privacy. Yet we’ve also seen people flock to apps like Snapchat and MSQRD for their augmented reality face filters (that require facial data). It’s a fascinating example of the privacy paradox, where people don’t always act in-line with what they say is important to them.
The privacy paradox is the reason we may say we’re uncomfortable with Facebook’s advertising targeting, but in the end we create an account and accept their terms in order to connect with friends and stay up-to-date on their lives.
When people know what principles your company stands behind, they’ll better understand how you develop features to improve their lives and delight them.