Facebook.com is officially rolling out a new feature that will recognize faces and automatically tag your friends. Is that cool or creepy?
We all knew this was coming. Facial recognition technology has become more accurate and powerful, and Facebook, which has become the go-to place to share photos with family and friends, includes a feature that lets members “tag” and identify other members. It was only a matter of time before someone managed to combine those technologies and create a system that would tag multiple photos based on facial recognition.
That someone is Facebook, which has announced a new feature named tag suggestions. With this new feature, Facebook members can upload an entire album and have Facebook automatically group photos containing the same face. So instead of uploading dozens of images from my nephew’s birthday party and tagging my brother and sister-in-law in each photo, Facebook hones in on my brother’s face and asks, “Who is this?” When I tag my brother’s name in that one photo, the tag is then applied to every photo that the facial recognition software can locate. I can then do the same for my sister and save myself a great deal of time – and typing.
Predictably, people are complaining about Facebook intruding on privacy. A security firm member claims that Facebook is “eroding the online privacy of its users,” but that’s a bit of a stretch. I’ve never been shy about criticizing Facebook for its privacy gaffes, but this is one case where the benefits far outweigh the “risks” of this new feature. Tag Suggestions makes tagging friends much easier and more efficient. It doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy because your friends were already going to tag you in those photos anyway. Critics are essentially complaining that Facebook decided to give users a shortcut.
Of course, the concept of facial recognition makes people nervous. Google even went as far to admit that its Goggles app could recognize faces, but the feature was disabled because of privacy concerns. If you share that sentiment and don’t want your face coming up in tag suggestions, follow these steps:
- Go to Facebook Privacy Settings
- Click “Customize Settings”
- Click the edit button next to “Suggest photos of me to friends”
- Click “Enabled” and change it to “Disabled”