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Facebook Ads Show How To Disable Facial Recognition

July 27, 2021 | Jonathan Cordes

Facebook has been the dominant social network for a long time, but one of the main criticisms it received was its lapse approach to security. Many of Facebook’s features are set to public by default, and users often find themselves opted into extra features that aren’t advertised. Meanwhile Google releases its rival social network, Google Plus, which has won over the tech crowd thanks to its simple to use circle of friends feature, which allows you to quickly and easily group people together based on categories such as friends, family etc.

Facebook is now finding itself facing some strong competition, and they are now re-considering the way that they publicise their new features. Brenna Ehrlich is reporting on Mashable that Facebook has been running adverts for US accounts notifying users about their Tag Suggestion feature.
Tag Suggestion appears after you upload a large volume of images to Facebook. Using facial recognition software to detect people’s faces in the pictures, the feature allows the user to quickly and easily tag people in photo’s without the need for them to tag individual people in each and every picture.

One of the reasons for these adverts is that Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen has concerns over the privacy of users. He has said in a statement that “Facebook has made significant changes that will provide better service and greater privacy protection to its users, not only in Connecticut, but across the country”. Looking at the statement and the changes made, it appears as if Facebook is doing these adverts as a response to the Attorney General’s comments, and possibly as a way of appealing those consumers who may be looking at Google Plus as their social network alternative.

The problem here is that Facebook has chosen to opt everybody in without actually notifying people that this feature exists. People don’t necessarily want Facebook to know what they look like and they don’t like the idea that a company has their face in a database. Most importantly people don’t want to automatically be opted into these features. The problem is that these features are silently rolled out, and many users have no idea that they have been opted into them.

The adverts themselves will be shown to US users of Facebook, and the company has said that every user will see the advert twice. However, being in the UK I cannot verify myself what information these adverts contain, or whether they actually show up. For those like me who are not US residents, the EFF have a video on their YouTube channel which shows you how to disable this feature.

Do you take offense to your account being automatically opted into features like this? Will you be disabling the Tag Suggestion feature? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • River Siobhan Hebda

    I’m not comfortable with this new feature from Facebook. Along with the hundreds of reasons why a person wouldn’t want their images recognized by a computer program for the world to see, what happens when the program slips up and tags those who may look alike but have no connection whatsoever.

    According to conventional wisdom, we all have a doppelganger somewhere in the world. Who knows if that person loves doing keg stands, flipping off the camera, and wearing almost nothing every day of the year? A slight mix-up in the facial recognition process could mean the difference between a call-back interview and the trash bin for an employer who is checking out potential new employees.

    I understand that this is an extreme view of what could happen with this feature, but I think it behooves a person to think out all possible outcomes before allowing their face to be recognized by anyone, anywhere.