New Facebook captcha test asks users to upload clear face photo

The new captcha is automatically activated when Facebook detects suspicious activity. The identitiy verification process is meant to “help [Facebook] catch suspicious activity at various points of interaction on the site, including creating an account, sending Friend requests, setting up ads payments, and creating or editing ads,” Facebook told Wired.

Facebook users are beginning to notice a new account verification test on mobile devices that asks for them to upload a clear photo of their face, which will then be used to confirm that they are a real person, similar to other basic captcha tests that prove human users are not a bot. The selfie verification test has been around since at least earlier this spring, but the story is just now beginning to spread after more users have shared screenshots of the test on Twitter (via Wired).

Every step of the process is automated, from the moment when Facebook flags an account for suspicious activity and asks for a photo verification, to the actual process of checking the uniqueness of the uploaded photo, meaning you’d have to upload a picture not previously shared on Facebook. Once the process is done, Facebook said that it will “permanently delete” the image from its servers. This is one of “several methods” the company uses to detect suspicious activity.

Earlier in November, Facebook announced a trial for a “non-consensual intimate image pilot” program, where part of the process asked users to send such images to themselves on Facebook Messenger. This was intended to eventually prevent any of these images from being spread online by reviewing and hashing the image, “which creates a human-unreadable, numerical fingerprint of it.” This way, if someone else did try to share the image on Facebook, the company’s database of hashes would spot the image and prevent it from being uploaded.

The company declined to share details to prevent the system from being manipulated. Suspicious activity might include someone who consistently posts from New York and then starts posting from Russia.

Facial technology is increasingly common, such the use of Apple Face ID to authenticate users on iPhone X.

Facebook and other tech giants Twitter and Google admitted their platforms had been gamed by Russia to influence US elections in 2016.

If Facebook asks you for the photo log-in you might be locked out of your account completely until you provide the image, with a message stating: “You Can’t Log In Right Now. We’ll get in touch with you after we’ve reviewed your photo. You’ll now be logged out of Facebook as a security precaution.”

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