THE SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook is making its controversial facial recognition feature opt-in by default.
The privacy-unaware firm first introduced its face recognition feature, dubbed "tag suggestions", almost two years ago. It went beyond suggesting friends to tag in pictures or videos and could let users know when they were in images they had permission to see elsewhere on the service.
Facebook announced this week that it's getting rid of the tag suggestions feature in favour of an overall facial recognition setting that will be switched off by default.
If you don't already have the setting, Facebook says you will get a notification about it that will give you the option to turn it on; if you don't do anything, facial recognition will remain switched off. Facebook says new users will also have facial recognition turned off by default.
The move comes after the FTC last month slapped Facebook with a $5bn fine for deceptive privacy practices, which included turning on tag suggestions by default for new users while suggesting its facial recognition was opt-in.
"We won't use face recognition to suggest that people tag you in photos," Facebook clarified this week. "This means that you'll still be able to be tagged in photos, but we won't suggest tags based on a face recognition template."
The firm's blog post, penned by artificial intelligence applied research lead Srinivas Narayanan, adds: "We've continued to engage with privacy experts, academics, regulators and people on Facebook about how we use face recognition and the options you have to control it.
"We've made the steps to update your settings clearer and you can opt to leave your setting off right in the notice, as opposed to having to go to a separate screen.
"We don't share your face recognition information with third parties. We also don't sell our technology." µ
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