Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Facebook are now using automatic facial recognition - but it's easy to turn off

Yet again, Facebook have introduced a measure which really interferes with our privacy without telling us.

They've introduced a feature which allows facial recognition software to suggest to you which of your friends they could tag in their photos. And to them, of course, what pictures of you they tag.

That does not excite me. If my friends want to tag me in their photos, that's for them to decide for themselves. I don't like the idea that Facebook could suggest it to them - and potentially to people that I don't know. And there's obviously the potential for errors to be made.

I have therefore turned the feature off. It took me a while to figure it out, but it's actually quite simple. This article tells you exactly how.

While I was at it, I also disabled the feature that enables people to check me into places. I think if the world is going to know where I am to the nearest millimetre, then I should be the one who chooses whether to tell them.

So, now you know - and the choice is yours.

Facebook can often be quite arbitrary in its decisions. It considers photos of nursing mothers posted on users' pages to be obscene and it has now, according to Life Begins, taken against links to a website called One World Birth. I haven't gone through One World Birth in too much detail, but something associated with people like Michel Odent and Sheila Kitzinger can't be bad.

I wish Facebook would give us plenty warning and instructions for opt out when they do these things, though, and not just sneak them out. Its usefulness as a medium of communication means that it's indispensable to us, and they know it. I guess we just have to stay aware of what they are up to - and publicise it when they do things like this. And explain that it does matter when a commercial organisation abuses your privacy.

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