Google Employee, ReCAPTCHA Co-Founder Joins Facebook

Ben Maurer, a Google employee and co-founder of reCAPTCHA, announced on his blog Monday that he’s joining Facebook to work with the infrastructure team. “With all the growth Facebook has seen comes unique challenges in scaling systems. I’m looking forward to working on this,” he wrote.

ReCAPTCHA, to review, was acquired by Google last year and is a service that helps to secure websites while digitizing books. Maurer was the chief architect of the company.

It not only provides CAPTCHA services — the distorted text you’re asked to enter in order to access some sites — but it does so in a unique way. It pulls this distorted text from old documents that are in the process of being digitized. From the company’s description:

reCAPTCHA improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher. More specifically, each word that cannot be read correctly by OCR [Optical Character Recognition] is placed on an image and used as a CAPTCHA. This is possible because most OCR programs alert you when a word cannot be read correctly.

Facebook also uses CAPTCHAs, although they are either providing the service in-house or using a white-labeled third party. Maurer will almost certainly be working on making the CAPTCHA infrastructure service scale. However, while Google itself is also busy digitizing books, Facebook is not (that we know of). We assume that aspect of his former company will instead continue on at Google.