The NYPD‘s new Facial Recognition Unit is using pictures on social media to catch criminals. This greatly expands the practical applications the technology, which uses features like the shape of the eye, nose, and cheekbones to match images.
DNAinfo New York reports that the unit searches Facebook and Instagram for photos of suspects in order to track them down. The technology can match any images that the police find to mug shots of known criminals.
It is now revolutionizing investigations, even though hits aren’t legally considered “probable cause” for making an arrest, they provide a way for suspects to be identified. A police official told DNAinfo New York about a recent case where it was put to good use:
The official explained how the new technology worked after a recent street robbery where a woman reported her jewelry stolen by her gal pal’s boyfriend. She did not know his name, only that he was likely in photos on his girlfriend’s Facebook page. “We did not have his name, but we found a photo and the Facial Recognition Unit got a hit,” the NYPD official said. “It saved a ton of time and potentially dangerous investigative legwork.”