Facebook photo tagging sparks privacy row

Facebook enables facial recognition software to tag photos without subject's permission

Tags: Face recognitionFacebook IncorporationPrivacySophos
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Facebook photo tagging sparks privacy row Facebook activated the automatic suggestion service without notifying users, says Sophos. (Getty Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  June 9, 2011

Security company Sophos is warning Facebook users to check their privacy settings, after the social network site introduced automatic photo tagging based on facial recognition.

Facebook introduced the service in the US earlier in the year, but in recent days has activated it worldwide, without alerting users.

Without changing privacy settings, this means as users upload photos, Facebook will scan the photo and if any of the people in the picture are identified as friends of the user, will prompt them to tag that friend in the photo. The person pictured does not have to give consent to be tagged, although only existing Facebook ‘friends' are suggested for tagging.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos said: "Many people feel distinctly uncomfortable about a site like Facebook learning what they look like, and using that information without their permission. Most Facebook users still don't know how to set their privacy options safely, finding the whole system confusing.  It's even harder though to keep control when Facebook changes the settings without your knowledge. Facebook users should have to 'opt-in' to the facial recognition feature, rather than the onus being on them to 'opt-out'."

Facebook has apologized for not alerting users to the change, but hasn't turned it off.

The automatic tag suggestions can be turned off by disabling ‘Suggest photos of me to friends' in a user's privacy settings.

For further instructions see Sophos' Naked Security site

2263 days ago
Carlson Yamamoto

Don't you think it's funny our government can't even obtain this kind of information about it's citizens without a court order, but facebook and other social networking site have been given the latitude? Why not, for the government it'll be like going to the library and avoid dealing with the ACLU, Lawsuits, etc., Wait is this the facebook that has like buttons all over the web and can track your whereabouts? Not the same facebook that bowed to china, and doesn't allow it's chinese users to talk about politics and religion is it? OnlyMeWorld.com the new alternative to facebook. No Real Names, No Email!

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