Facebook Messenger can now scan your phone’s photo library and detect the faces of your friends — as long as you live in Australia.
On Monday the social network announced an update to its Messenger app that adds “Photo Magic,” a feature that can scan the photos on an Android phone and prompt you to share them with people who are tagged. Facebook is testing the feature in Australia before opening it up to the iPhone version of its app and other countries.
Adding facial recognition to Messenger may seem odd given that it’s primarily considered to be a messaging app, but when you consider that people send a staggering 9.5 billion photos through Messenger every month, the decision begins to make more sense.
Messenger is very proactive in prompting to share a photo with friends it thinks are in a photo — the app will send a notification asking you to send a photo to people on Facebook it thinks are tagged. (This specific behaviour can be turned off in the Messenger app’s settings.)
The technology Facebook is using for Photo Magic is what’s already powering the Moments app, a quite good Facebook photo sharing app you’ve probably never used.
Facebook lets you decide whether it can recognise your face through Messenger, the Moments app, or its auto-tagging feature for sharing photos. You can turn off the option under the “timeline and tagging” section of your Facebook account’s settings.