Facebook under fire for photo tagging feature
Thursday 09 June 2011
Facebook is coming under fire for a feature that uses facial recognition software to allow members to tag pictures of their friends on the social network.
The "Tag Suggestions" feature made its debut on Facebook in the United States six months ago but has drawn renewed attention this week after the social network began rolling it out to other countries.
Justin Mitchell, a Facebook engineer, said in a blog post that Tag Suggestions was now available in most countries.
Tag Suggestions uses facial recognition software to match newly uploaded photos to photos that have been tagged elsewhere and suggests the name of the friend in the photo for tagging.
Although the feature was launched in the United States in December, it began coming under scrutiny again this week following a blog post by Graham Cluley of the security firm Sophos.
Cluley objected to the enabling of the photo tagging feature without giving users any notice and the fact that it is an opt-in instead of an opt-out process, meaning users were included unless they specifically changed their settings.
"The tagging is still done by your friends, not by Facebook, but rather creepily Facebook is now pushing your friends to go ahead and tag you," Cluley said.
"Facebook does not give you any right to pre-approve tags," he said. "Instead the onus is on you to untag yourself in any photo a friend has tagged you in. After the fact."
"Many people feel distinctly uncomfortable about a site like Facebook learning what they look like, and using that information without their permission," he continued.
"The onus should not be on Facebook users having to 'opt-out' of the facial recognition feature, but instead on users having to 'opt-in,' Cluley said.
A member of the US House of Representatives objected on Wednesday to the opt-in nature of the photo tagging feature on Facebook, which has been forced to weather a number of privacy storms over the past few years.
"Requiring users to disable this feature after they've already been included by Facebook is no substitute for an opt-in process," said Representative Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts.
"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.
Facebook, which has more than 600 million members, said Wednesday that the feature was intended to make it easier to tag friends in photos but apologized for not sharing more information.
"We launched Tag Suggestions to help people add tags of their friends in photos; something that's currently done more than 100 million times a day," a Facebook spokesman said in a statement to AFP.
"If for any reason someone doesn't want their name to be suggested, they can disable the feature in their Privacy Settings," the spokesman said.
"When we announced this feature last December, we explained that we would test it, listen to feedback and iterate before rolling it out more broadly," he said.
"We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them," the spokesman said.
Life & Style blogs
How Old Do I Look: Microsoft’s super advanced age-guessing app is terrible at guessing how old celebrities are, too
What do the emoji on Snapchat mean?
The 12 most sexually satisfied countries in the world revealed
Nasa might have successfully tested a warp drive that could carry people at speeds approaching that of light
ZX Spectrum to return with Vega reboot
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 1 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As your knowledge grows you wil...
£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Cloud ...