Facial recognition software has come a long way in recent years. It used to only be in sci-fi, like Star Trek or Minority Report… but now it’s part of our everyday lives!

Perhaps you first discovered facial recognition from logging into your phone – or maybe it was Facebook tagging images for you.

In any case, your first experience with facial recognition surely won’t be your last. This new technology is becoming more sophisticated, and it’s all over the place these days – from airports and shops to social media sites, phones and more.

Today we’ll explore this interesting topic – including how facial recognition works, a bit about the history, and of course… tips on how to turn it off (when possible)!

What is Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition is any program that uses AI to identify people using images of their face.

The first facial recognition software could only analyze clear, clean images; however, these days it can even detect faces in motion, such as a video.

The technology was originally developed in the mid-1960s. It was funded by U.S. intelligence agencies and the military, who used it for… well, lots of things (and they still use it today).

How does Facial Recognition work?

While each facial recognition software works slightly different from the next, there are generally more similarities than differences. The process most technology uses is called Facial Scanning.

Facial scanning measures up to 80 distinct features on your face. This includes everything from the distance between your eyes, the width of your eyes, the size of your nose, the distance from your chin to your forehead, and so on.

Image source: G2 Learning Hub

These are all called “nodal points”. They’re essentially dots at important landmarks on your face – and together they create a “facial map”.

Similar to your fingerprint, everyone has a unique facial map. In a way, facial recognition works in a similar way to a fingerprint scanner — but it’s 3D instead of 2D.

How is Facial Recognition used?

In most cases, your phone (or another device with facial recognition technology) will ask to perform a scan of your face. Some facial recognition programs just need a single image, but most require a few shots at different angles.

Your device uses these images to create that facial map, which it stores in a secure location. Then, every time you want to access something using facial recognition, it refers to that facial map.

As you can probably guess, the software is not perfect. It keeps getting better, but we still hear cases of people using photos to unlock people’s phones. This is because the facial maps are limited to a certain amount of nodal points. If two people have very similar facial features, it’s possible they could be mistaken for one another by a computer.

So, while facial recognition is quite powerful, it’s still not perfect. That means you may want to turn it off in some cases. But how?

How to turn off facial recognition

Fortunately, it is possible – but it depends on the platform. Any time you sign up for facial recognition, your facial map gets stored. Therefore, you’ll need to visit each site or device you’ve created a facial map at.

For most people, this is Facebook and/or their phone. Let’s walk through each:


How to turn off Facial Recognition on Facebook

Facebook doesn’t make it easy. If you want to turn off facial recognition, follow these steps:

1. Open the Facebook mobile app

2. Bring up your profile

3. Choose “More,” then select “View Privacy Shortcuts.”

4. Select “More Settings,”

5. Choose “Face Recognition,” and turn it off.


How to turn off Facial Recognition on your phone

For iOS:

1. On your device, go to “Settings”
2. Open “Face ID and Passcode”
3. Choose “Toggle Off.”

For Android:

1. On your device, go to “Settings”
2. Go to “Lock Screen and Security”
3. Find the facial recognition option and turn it off.


So now you know all about how facial recognition works – plus how to turn it off. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you again soon!

One comment on “Innovations Explained: How Does Facial Recognition Work?

  1. John Raat on

    Well above my ability as a elderly pensioner but interesting. Thank you for the update but still to complicated for me.
    Cheers and happy new year to all.
    John Raat


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