Facebook has launched its latest ‘feature’ in a number of countries, and with a questionable privacy record, the social media platform’s facial-recognition technology is once again creating controversy.
The facial-recognition feature, not yet available in Canada, scans photos being uploaded by the user and automatically identifies people from their friends list. The suggested tags must be approved by the user uploading the photos, and those who have been identified can choose to un-tag themselves. However, individuals must opt out of the feature if they do not want to be named, as like many other Facebook features, the facial-recognition technology will be automatically activated.
Facebook reportedly prefers to refer to the technology as “Tag Suggestions” and not facial recognition, and considers the feature to be ‘opt-in’ because users can choose to disable the slot machines online function at any time. The social media giant, with 750 million users, has yet to announce if the feature will become available in Canada.
A coalition made up of a number of digital rights groups from the United States has already filed a complaint the FTC, fearing Facebook might willing to eventually share the data collected by this technology with advertisers. They also allege that users are not completely informed of the importance and potential ramifications of the biometric information being, possibly unknowingly, collected about them.
Prior to Facebook launching the technology, Google developed a facial-recognition feature for use with the “Google Goggles” mobile app, which matched facial photos taken on the phone with information stored on their massive database. Google did not release the application because of ongoing privacy concerns, explained Google chairman Eric Schmidt. “People could use this stuff in a very, very bad way as well as in a good way.”