Facebook Photo Recognition Scrutinized: Privacy A Problem

We all know that Facebook has a tendency to roll out an update without necessarily mentioning it to its users or to the world as they have done previously. This time however they are perhaps in a spot of bother as they have rolled out Facebook photo recognition which is being scrutinized as privacy seems to be a problem.

We read a report over on the LATimes blog where their author explains that Facebook is attracting some unwanted attention from a prominent privacy group and various lawmakers across the US and EU Union. The facial recognition software will allow users to identify people on multiple photos straight away using the new functionality, it sounds all well and good as Facebook are looking to save the time of people sitting tagging others in photos.

One thing that is being spoken about is the data that Facebook is collating so that the facial recognition can work on its photographs; this was raised by John Verdi who is a part of EPIC. One thing that nobody really knows is what Facebook actually does with the data that they have collected or who else has access to it once you have added it.

We have previously heard rumors of acquisitions involving Face.com and Facebook with Facial recognition and also Matt Tran of OSM informed us of the auto-tagging features that your general user may not know about. On Tuesday Justin Mitchell of the Facebook Blog added a post where he also explains that you can opt out of the suggested tags by adjusting your privacy settings accordingly.

The real problem here is that now this feature is going global Facebook is switching it on without telling its 500 million strong army of users that if they don’t want to be a part of it then they have to manually opt out. Perhaps Facebook should have added a popup or informed the users in some way that this feature would be live and done things the other way round. In other words maybe Facebook should have added the feature and told people how to turn it on rather than enabling it, not telling people it’s been enabled and then informing people through a blog post that a number of users won’t be aware of that they can in fact opt out. Stay tuned for any further updates.

If you would like to switch this feature off then you will need to go to your privacy settings, and then click on Customize Settings. When you are in there there’s a drop down that saying Edit Settings next to Suggest Photos of me to Friends, click on this and then where it says Enabled change it to Disabled. We would urge you to share this information with your friends and colleagues if this is something that you yourself would like to opt out of for your own reasons as they may wish to as well. It’s worth noting that following through with this process will still allow your friends to manually tag you

What do you think of the changes that Facebook has made? Have you now opted out? Let us know in the comments section below.