Another shocking and controversial feature rolled out by Facebook is facial recognition of the photos one uploads. As always it is activated by default and one has to search for instructions on how to disable the Facebook facial recognition feature. If you too have similar doubts, look at this explanation of the facial recognition technology and Facebook settings to disable it.
Facebook is a part of most of our lives. We cannot fathom a day, when we do not check into our accounts at least twice in 24 hours. We share our lives with people who matter and at times with people we don’t really know. Yet, we call them ‘our Facebook friends’ and go through their updates as well. Facebook continues to offer features to its users that may help make their virtual lives easy. Some features are a hit and some are better dumped down the drain. One such feature introduced to the population of the Facebook world was Tag photos. Tagging helped you tag a particular photo you upload to your friends. This way, not only was the photo visible on your Facebook profile, but also on the profile page of the friend/s you tagged. It also helped in people recognizing your friends better. Yet, tagging is considered to be a drag, a boring chore by many, including me. Just imaging, a reunion at school and I have to tag 8 of my closest friends in the 60+ photos I upload!
The Facebook team has taken up this issue rather seriously and has come up with a unique feature. They introduced to the world, a Facebook facial recognition software that automatically recognizes people in the photo. It will then suggest their names and help you tag them quicker. What if you do not want people to tag you automatically? What if you are not comfortable with the whole idea of a program recognizing you? Then you will need to disable this feature in your account. Let us have a look at the instructions that help you learn to disable it. But before that, we shall take a quick look at what is the Facebook facial recognition technology.
What is the Facebook’s Facial Recognition Feature?
Recently, Facebook launched the facial recognition technology in United States and soon made it available in ‘certain’ countries. One usually clicks their pictures at a party or some other event with friends and uploads it next day on Facebook. The site quietly identifies each of the friends featuring in these particular photos. If they have been previously tagged in different photos, the Facebook facial recognition software will try to identify them. In doing so, the user is automatically given suggestions of the people it thinks are featured in the photo. All the user needs to do is select the particular friend name and say ‘yeah, Tag them’. They can even ‘Save’ a particular tag and tag all the pictures at once. This makes things easier for the user and helps in saving time, apparently. This is all the fun part, now coming down to serious business. We need to think about Facebook facial recognition privacy issues as well. We shall deal with these later in the article. We will first continue with the instructions to disable Facebook’s facial recognition feature, the reason you landed on this page.
Instructions for Disabling the Facial Recognition Feature on Facebook
Like always, this feature is automatically activated and has become functional before the users get a chance to understand it. If you opt to disable it then Techspirited will help you learn how to disable the facial recognition feature. The method is quite simple and explained below:
1. You need to first log into your Facebook account.
2. Now, go to your Profile page or stay on your Home page and click on the ‘Account’ drop down menu. You can locate the ‘Accounts’ tab on the far right corner of the page.
3. From the drop down menu, select ‘Privacy Settings’.
4. Now, click on the tab that says ‘Custom’ and then ‘Customize Settings’. You will see, a little pencil icon near the Customize settings tab.
5. You need to look for the section that says ‘Things others share’ and go to ‘Suggest photos of me to friends’. This is what we are looking for and you need to click on ‘Edit Settings’.
6. A new window will pop up and ask you ‘Photos: Suggest Tags’. Here, you need to select ‘Disable’ and then click on ‘Okay’. This will help you save your settings.
That’s it. Facebook will no longer automatically suggest your photos to friends when they upload images with you in it. If you do not find it, it may not have been introduced in your country. But, if you suddenly find your mailbox filled with notifications that you have been tagged in bulk photos, act fast. This makes some of you wonder why are you disabling this feature from your account? Is it just because your friends are not so gung-ho about it and are disabling it themselves? Is there something that meets more than the eye? Is your safety at stake and should you follow the above information on how to disable Facebook facial recognition feature? Questions like these will be answered in the following section. So, don’t stop my friend, continue reading.
Facebook Facial Recognition and Privacy Issues
Germany has issued a legal action against the Facebook facial recognition software. You may wonder, what is the harm if Facebook automatically suggests friends that need to be tagged. Well, Germany as well as many other counties and users think it breaches one’s right to privacy and data protection laws. You see, they have a tool that can run all the photos that are uploaded on this social networking site. This program then identifies the friends featured in the user’s photos. There are over 650 million active users of this popular social networking site. On an average, everyday, there are over 200 million photos uploaded on Facebook. There are over 91 billion photos hosted by Facebook. So every time a person is tagged, the program will be able to learn more and more about the facial features of a particular person. Even if one goes in for disabling the Facebook facial recognition feature, the information about tagged photos will remain with Facebook. Whether you tag or ‘un’-tag your photos, the information may be useful to the Facebook program. At the end of the day, just imagine, if the facial recognition technology has been able to map the accurate features of millions of unsuspecting users! Your privacy and data protection right is at stake.
No wonder, Germany has taken a legal step and asked Facebook to remove its feature of facial recognition from its country. They even want them to delete any of the information they have gathered and stored so far. Although one may disable the Facebook facial recognition feature, all it does is stop suggesting friends to tag. It does not prevent the program from gathering the information and storing it on the site. It’s the end of privacy, if the feature is allowed to run. Any one can start uploading a photo and will be able to tag it to the person. Many times we end up taking some compromising photos or even end up taking pictures that were meant to be a joke or prank. Teenagers are especially vulnerable as they are the ones who love taking and uploading mischievous photos of themselves and their friends for fun. If automatic tagging is allowed, it may take its toll when they wish to opt for higher studies or get into a professional setup. These photos that were meant to be just for fun, may tarnish their image in places where it matters the most. Thus, it is best to disable this facial recognition feature soon enough.
We have gone through the good, the bad and the ugly side of Facebook facial recognition. The feature has crept in most of our accounts rather silently, but may have dangerous implications in future. It is now up to you to decide whether you need to continue using it or disable it. Enjoy ‘Facebooking’, be wise and stay safe.