Protect Privacy by Blurring Faces in a Photo or Video

For many families the start of school also means the start of fall sports. At most games, parents are on the sidelines shooting videos or taking pictures. Often these shots include not just their child but faces of other kids as well. Before sharing online, people should ask permission. But in a photo or video containing so many faces, this is an impossible task. Thankfully, technology has come to the rescue.

For pictures, I use Obscuracam. Obscuracam is an app developed by the Guardian Project. The Guardian Project originally envisioned this tool to protect human rights activists. It is also works for parents who want to protect the identity of their kids or friends online. As an added bonus, Obscuracam removes all identifying metadata from the photo, including location.

This app is quick and easy to use. First, it highlights the faces in the photo. But if it misses a face, you can simply tap on the missed face to select it. For fun instead of pixalating or redacting faces, you can add a groucho mask.

Obscuracam also has a video option. I tried this app on one of my videos. Unfortunately, it did not work for me. Reading through the comments in Google Play, I am not alone in having trouble with video. Obscuracam is only in its first release, hopefully later versions improve the video option.

Another option for video is YouTube’s new feature. YouTube now allows users to blur faces in a video. When editing, click enhancements and choose “Blur All Faces” located under Additional Features. After viewing the video, you can choose to save it or return back to the original.

This new tool has some limitations. First, the only option is to blur all faces. It is not possible to select individual faces. Second, it does best with faces looking directly toward the camera. If a face is in profile, the feature does not always work. This is a new feature, so watch for future improvements.

With these tools, parents can now post the winning goal without identifying or embarrassing the goalie. Kids may also want to play with blurring faces. Kids should remember the rules of what not to post or share online still applyThese tools are not a free pass to post anything but a way to protect you and your friends’ online privacy.

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