Facebook Buys Facial Recognition Provider Face.com

A month after its IPO debacle, Facebook has acquired facial recognition technology provider Face.com for an undisclosed amount.

Based in Israel, Face.com offers facial recognition software that third-party developers can incorporate into their own apps for free, as well as two Facebook apps: Photo Finder, which lets people find untagged photos of themselves and their friends, and Photo Tagger, which allows people to bulk-tag faces in a photo.

Face.com CEO Gil Hirsch announced in a blog post that he and his team will focus on building mobile products for Facebook. "We think that mobile is a critical part of people's lives as they both create and consume content, and share content with their social graph," wrote Hirsch. "By working with Facebook directly, and joining their team, we'll have more opportunities to build amazing products that will be employed by consumers."

With this purchase, as well as its $1 billion Instagram acquisition, Facebook appears to consider mobile photos and the users who share them to be a critical part of its future. By combining Face.com's mobile facial recognition technology with Instagram's stylized photos, Facebook users could potentially upload a stylized photo to Facebook on their mobile device, automatically receive suggestions of whom to tag, and confirm the tags with one tap.

Facebook also acquired mobile-commerce start-up Karma in May and hired the mobile-development team away from Pieceable Software last week. Although Facebook is moving ahead in its mobile capabilities, it still remains to be seen whether the social network will be able to monetize its user traffic through mobile advertising.

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