Facebook launched the Facial recognition feature recently and was turned on by default without a notice and for this the security firm Sophos expressed concern.The social-networking site acknowledged that it should have been more communicative about the service’s roll-out, but did not announce plans to make it opt-in.
“Now might be a good time to check your Facebook privacy settings as many Facebook users are reporting that the site has enabled the option in the last few days without giving users any notice,” Sophos’ Graham Cluley wrote in a blog post.
Back in December, Facebook announced plans for facial-recognition technology intended to make it easier for people to tag photos of friends. Facebook said it would examine newly uploaded photos and compare them to other photos in which you or your friends are tagged in order to make tagging suggestions.
When it was announced, Facebook said it would test the service and listen to feedback before a full rollout. “We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them,” a Facebook spokesman said in a Tuesday statement.
Facebook is “rather creepily … pushing your friends to go ahead and tag you,” Cluley wrote. “Remember, Facebook does not give you any right to pre-approve tags. Instead the onus is on you to untag yourself in any photo a friend has tagged you in. After the fact.”
Facebook, however, said the tool is simply intended to help users speed up a process that is “done more than 100 million times a day.” Tag suggestions are made only when people upload photos and it only suggests friends.
“Tag Suggestions are now available in most countries and we’ll post further updates to our blog over time,” the Facebook spokesman said.
If you don’t want facial recognition turned on, go to your Facebook account’s privacy settings, click on “Customize settings,” go to “Things others share” and find the option for “Suggest photos of me to friends.” To see if it’s enabled, click “Edit Settings” and the box should either say “enabled” or “disabled.”
In April, Cluley published an open letter to Facebook that outlined three fundamental steps Facebook needed to take to better protect its users. That included a request for a “privacy by default” setting.
“Unfortunately, once again, Facebook seems to be sharing personal information by default,” Cluley wrote today. “The onus should not be on Facebook users having to “opt-out” of the facial recognition feature, but instead on users having to ‘opt-in.’”