Facebook has hit the headlines yet again this week after rolling out a facial recognition tool which automatically recognises the people in photos, and then gives users the option of tagging them.
The feature has been available in the USA for six months – but since launching in Europe last week it has caused outcry among some, who suggest that, yet again, those evil Facebook programmers are out to invade our privacy.
To be honest I’m not quite sure I get what the problem is. It seems to me that the conspiracy theorists are just low on material at the moment.
For me, any tool which is added to makes things like uploading photos quicker and easier can only be a good thing, and I can’t wait to try it out.
Remember the days of ‘simple upload’ when you had to upload 5 photos at a time and albums had a maximum capacity of 60 images?
It was very frustrating – as is tagging friends in photos.
There are so many photos of me and my friends on holiday and at weddings etc that I would quite like to see, but can’t be bothered to go through everyone’s albums to find.
Same as I know that there are loads of photos of friends in my albums, who would love to be tagged, but don’t know the photos are there. And I certainly don’t have the time or the inclination to go through and tag them all myself!
This automatic facial recognition system will no doubt make things quicker and easier for all involved.
So what’s the problem?
From what I’ve read:
- It only recognises your friend’s faces (and you know what they look like already, surely?!)
- It won’t recognise complete strangers who happen to be in the background, or people who you are not direct friends with on Facebook already
- It won’t go through and tag all existing photos linked to your profile – only ones you upload from now on (and then you can choose whether or not to tag them)
- Users who are tagged will receive a notification and can then untag themselves if they wish
- And perhaps most importantly – you can turn the feature off! That means that your friends will have to continue to manually tag you in every photo
Don’t know how to turn it off? Check out instructions here.
This sort of technology has been around for years (there is even an exisiting app for Facebook which was launched in 2009), and I just simply don’t understand why it is an issue for Facebook to be using it to make their users’ experience more efficient.
What do you think?
Is Facebook invading our privacy or are people making a big deal out of nothing?