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YouTube has introduced a new face blurring tool for videos uploaded to the site in an effort to enhance user privacy.
The tool makes it easy for video owners to blur the faces of people in the video to protect their identities. For videos that are public it means other users will often be unable to recognize the people in the video.
The tool will help protect human rights activists who otherwise would face government retaliation, according to a Google which owns YouTube.
But the new tool isn't foolproof. And it doesn't promise complete anonymity.
The face blurring tool on YouTube is similar to that used by Google in Google Maps Street View. If selected, the tool will blur all the faces that appear within a given video.
But the tool isn't perfect and it may not recognize faces that are at a strange angle, under unusual lighting, or partially obstructed, reports EWeek. Users will have the opportunity to check the blurring and determine if it is sufficient or if they wish to keep the video private.
Blurred faces alone don't guarantee anonymity. The tool will not blur and background scenery, including license plates, and cannot cover up a recognizable voice.
The tool does allow some additional privacy for users who upload content to YouTube, but not necessarily as much as simply making the videos Private.
YouTube will create an original and a blurred copy of a video if users choose to employ face-blurring. The video owner can choose which to publish according to The Telegraph.
That indicates an unblurred copy may be available on YouTube's servers. While the video would be blurred to the general public, the original could potentially be reached through a subpoena or a warrant in a criminal investigation.
For most people, YouTube's face blurring tool allows them greater control over their online identity. In a world with constant internet interaction, that can make a big difference for personal privacy.