Sophos cautions against Facebook’s facial recognition technology
Wednesday 08 June 2011
Security company Sophos is warning users that they should revise their Facebook privacy settings after the social networking quietly rolled out facial recognition for photo tagging globally.
Facebook introduced the facial recognition technology to make the process of tagging photos quicker and easier.
"When you or a friend upload new photos, we use face recognition software - similar to that found in many photo editing tools - to match your new photos to other photos you're tagged in. We group similar photos together and, whenever possible, suggest the name of the friend in the photos," explained Facebook in a June 7 blog post.
Facebook has been slowly rolling out Tag Suggestions to users all across the globe over the past few months.
While many users who upload a large number of photos will find the tag suggestions helpful, Sophos believes Facebook should stop "sharing personal information by default."
Currently, Facebook users must opt out of the facial recognition service if they don’t want Facebook to "learn what they look like."
"The tagging is still done by your friends, not by Facebook," noted Sophos in a post on its Naked Security blog, "but rather creepily Facebook is now pushing your friends to go ahead and tag you."
"Facebook does not give you any right to pre-approve tags. Instead the onus is on you to untag yourself in any photo a friend has tagged you in. After the fact," added Sophos.
During All Things D's D9 conference, Google chairman Eric Schmidt revealed that Google had been working on facial recognition technology but has since decided not to use it - the potential for abuse is too risky, said Schmidt.
Sophos provides a step-by-step guide to disabling the "Suggest photos of me to friends" option on its blog.
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