Friday, June 10, 2011

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings to Enable Facial Recognition

Facebook will soon be able to recognize familiar faces. Facebook will automatically enable this feature for Facebook users but it can be disabled in the privacy settings on the Web site. Facebook initially introduced this feature for its North American users, but now it is rolling out to most countries.

This feature uses facial recognition technology and will suggest labeling friends that appear in photos posted on Facebook. Facebook doesn’t give users the option to avoid being tagged in a photo, people who don’t want to be tagged may untag themselves afterwards. Manual tagging system will still be available.

The company's rollout strategy has raised concerns over users’ privacy. Many Facebook users are reporting that the site has enabled the facial recognition option without giving users any notice. In response to an inquiry, Facebook replied, “We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them. We launched Tag Suggestions to help people add tags of their friends in photos; something that’s currently done more than 100 million times a day. Tag Suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested. If for any reason someone doesn’t want their name to be suggested, they can disable the feature in their Privacy Settings.”

Other photo software and online services such as Google Inc's Picasa and Apple Inc's iPhoto use facial recognition technology but they have not enabled this feature on the online versions.

Facebook is the largest photo sharing service scanning millions of pictures daily. More than 100 million photos per day are uploaded to Facebook.

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