Facebook Enables Facial Recognition Without Your Consent

Facebook has been playing with facial recognition, used for tagging people in uploaded photos, for over a year.

It has now rolled this technology out to all Facebook users, enabling the service in the privacy settings without asking users first and many are unhappy.

Tagging Your Friends

Photo tagging has been available in Facebook for a few years now, however, the new technology scans through your uploaded photos and “urges” you to tag people the Facebook servers have “recognised” in the photos.

The previous method was to draw a box around each of your friends, naming that person, for which Facebook would send you a “Joe Bloggs tagged a photo of you on Facebook” email.

You’re now likely to see a lot more of those emails in your inbox.

Privacy Concerns

Inbox clutter isn’t the only gripe that many have.

For those Facebook users who have taken the time to go through their privacy settings, tuning them to the level they are happy with, the automatic “opt-in” and enabling of the new facial recognition system, for everyone, changes that.. again.

Now all your friends can happily tag your face, in all their photos quickly and easily, overriding any level of privacy you thought you may have had.

The new feature isn’t necessarily a bad idea but turning it on for everyone without asking them first is.

If the idea of Facebook trawling through images, recognising your face and suggesting to your friends that you be “tagged” doesn’t give you warm fuzzies, here’s how to disable it.

Disabling the Facebook Facial Recognition Service

First, open your Facebook privacy settings page and click on “customize settings”.

In the “Things others share” section, click on the “Edit Settings” button for the new “Suggest photos of me to friends” option.

The popup dialog bog will show you whether or not the new service has been enabled.

Click on the “Disabled” option and “OK” to close the dialog box, saving the option.

What of Future Privacy Updates?

Facebook seems to have the attitude that everyone should share everything all the time and unless this changes you can expect other features and services to share your information with everyone else.

We would suggest subscribing to or regularly visiting the Facebook blog and of course if any additional privacy concerns arise, we will highlight and bring them to your attention.

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Wil is a dad, WordPress consultant, WordPress developer, business coach and mentor. He co-organizes the WordPress Sydney meetup group and has been on the organising committee for WordCamp Sydney since 2014. He speaks at many special events and contributes to the WordPress open source project. His likes are chillies, craft beer and electrogravitics.