The super-duper high-tech James-Bondesque Facebook facial recognition feature has been met with a lot of controversy recently. What was a good intentioned update could infringe on your privacy.

The technology allows for similar photos to be grouped together and immediately suggests which of your friends are in the photos, making the tagging process nearly automatic. The automated photo-tagging suggestions are only made when new photos are uploaded to Facebook and only friends are suggested.  According to Facebook, the feature is “similar to that found in many photo editing tools”. The screen-shot below, taken from Mashable, shows how it works. Facebook fills in the name of the friend in the box, “Who is this?” and you click “Save Tags” to accept.

Here are the perks from the Facebook team themselves:

While tags are an essential tool for sharing important moments, many of you have said tagging photos can be a chore. (Like that time you had to tag your cousin and her fiancé over and over and over again in 64 different pictures of their engagement party, and then go back and tag the guests.)

Since October, we’ve been working to make this process easier for you. First we added group tagging, so you could type one name and apply it to multiple photos of the same person. Now we’re announcing tag suggestions, which will make tagging multiple photos even more convenient.

While the big dogs at Facebook seem to be excited about it, Facebook users across the board are outraged with this new technology. The feature has slowly been made available to users since late 2010. Facial recognition technology is available already through other photo products such as Apple Inc’s iPhoto and Google Inc’s Picasa. The problem is that Facebook presented this technology as a default setting for 500 million users and counting. Facebook has already faced a E.U. probe from data protection regulators over the new feature.

If you don’t want to participate in this setting, here is how to do it:

  1. Go to your privacy settings.
  2. Click “Customize settings.”
  3. Scroll down to “Things others share.”
  4. Find “Suggest photos of me to friends.”
  5. Edit accordingly.

Facebook is making it possible for it’s users to make more and more social connections. With every update, no matter how out-of-the-blue and/or unnecessary, Facebook becomes more addicting. Nevertheless I have heard of a small group of social rebels who delete their accounts after receiving these updates. Some share conspiracy theories about the technology, predicting a future in which a photo taken on the street can be the key to an internet database of personal information and activity.

Is the default roll-out a violation of your privacy? How are you guys responding, comment and let us know!

(Originally Posted on by Lauren)

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