Facebook buys facial recognition company Face.com

After weeks of rumors, Facebook has acquired Israeli facial recognition company Face.com, in a move aimed at bolstering the company’s mobile capabilities.

The price hasn’t been announced, although early reports put the figure at between $80 and $100 million, and both staff and technology will be transferred intact.

Face.com specializes in mobile face recognition, and incorporating tis technology could allow Facebook users to upload photos from their phone, have the app suggest tags, and then accept them immediately.

“We love building products, and like our friends at 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,” says face.com chief executive Gil 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.”

The company already offers two Facebook apps: Photo Finder and Photo Tagger, which let users find untagged pictures of themselves and their friends and then tag them en masse.

It launched its open API in 2010, and says it’s keen to continue supporting developers.

The takeover is the latest move in a campaign by Facebook to improve its  mobile and photo-sharing capabilities, most recently with the purchase of Instagram and the launch of Camera, a photo-sharing app.

But when it comes to facial recognition, Facebook’s found itself in trouble before. This time last year, it launched a feature allowing users to use facial recognition to tag their friends without permission, prompting complaints from privacy campaigners.