Facebook made a huge change on Tuesday: The social media service no longer suggests friends to tag in uploaded photos, one of the staples of the service.
Now, and only if you choose to opt-in to Facebook’s face recognition option, Facebook will offer you suggestions for photos you may be in. If you approve, then those tags will be added to the photo.
Previously, if you uploaded a photo, Facebook would automatically suggest friends to tag in the photo based on the faces it recognized in the image — a service which used some form of facial recognition to offer the suggested tags.
It’s a subtle change to how Facebook works, but it’s a crucial one: It puts control of face recognition in the hands of users rather than automatically using software to recognize users.
Moreover, it’s a change that comes in the wake of a historic $5 billion fine from the Federal Trade Commission due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
More simply: Facebook now has to explicitly ask user permission to use facial-recognition software.
If you choose to opt in, Facebook says it primarily uses face recognition data for two things: photo tagging and identity protection.
In addition to suggesting photos you might be in, opting in to face recognition also means Facebook will keep a lookout for anyone else on the service pretending to be you. “We can help protect against someone using your photo to impersonate you,” the information page says.
The changes are already in effect all over the world, and some users with specific settings will start seeing prompts to opt in to face recognition starting today.
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