Added by David Sandercock on June 11, 2011
Social network giant Facebook has come under fire for using a facial recognition software that allows its members to tag pictures of their friends on the site.
The “Tag Suggestions” feature has been available to Facebook users in the US for some six months, and is now being rolled out in many other countries.
The feature uses facial recognition software to match photos that are being uploaded to those already tagged on the site and to suggest the names of friends appearing in the photo.
The software has come under scrutiny this week after Graham Cluley of security company Sophos wrote about it on his blog. Cluley objects to the fact that the feature is enabled without notifying the user, and that it is an opt-in rather than an opt-out addition – in other words, users are included unless they specifically change their privacy settings to opt out.
Cluleu said: “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.”
He also added that many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of Facebook (and other sites) getting to know what you look like, and also being able to use that information without your permission.
Edward Markey, a member of the US House of Representatives, also objects to the opt-in nature of the Facebook photo tagging feature.
“If this new feature is as useful as Facebook claims, it should be able to stand on its own, without an automatic sign-up that changes users’ privacy settings without their permission,” Markey said in a statement.
In response to criticism, Facebook said the feature was intended to make photo tagging easier, and apologised for not giving out more information: “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 statement.
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