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Facebook rolls out face recognition to all users

Written by Hannah McGrath
04/09/2019

Facebook is rolling out its facial recognition setting to all users as it phases out the ‘tag suggestions’ option.

Writing in a blog, Srinivas Narayanan, applied research lead at Facebook AI, explained that those who newly join the social media platform, or who previously had the tag suggestions, will have the face recognition setting automatically added.

The move comes with updated guidance to users on how to control their privacy settings around facial recognition in the wake of data privacy incidents for the firm including the Cambridge Analytica scandals.

The new technology and control settings are an upgrade on tag suggestions feature, Narayanan said, since they gave users the choice over whether Facebook could make suggestions to tag them in photos, but no ability to control other uses for facial recognition on the platform.

In December 2017, the face recognition feature was rolled out to some users, but will now be available to the social network’s two billion users around the world.

The feature comes with an ‘on/off’ switch for facial recognition permissions, aimed at helping users to protect their identity on Facebook. If facial recognition is not turned on, people will still be able to manually tag friends, but Facebook won’t suggest for the user to be tagged by their friends using the facial recognition technology.

Facebook said that the technology does not recognise users to stranger outside an individual’s friends network and that the company does not share face recognition information with third parties, nor does it sell the facial recognition technology.

The post concluded: “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. If you do nothing, face recognition will remain off for you.”