Facebook had sneakily unleashed facial recognition technology on images uploaded to its site, ostensibly to help friends tag you in photographs, according to a report by Sophos. Problem is, it kept pretty quiet about it (bar a blog post), and nor did it provide a means for users to opt-in to the service. Additionally, despite rolling out the functionality in the USA first, the privacy settings weren't made available to users elsewhere before the service arrived.
"Remember, 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," explains the Sophos report
And how is that achieved? You can disable the functionality for your account by visiting Account > Privacy Settings, then clicking Customise Settings, scrolling down, finding 'Suggest photos of me to friends', clicking Edit Settings, then selecting Disabled from the pop-up. Very discoverable, we're sure you'll agree.
In a statement, Facebook has now 'apologised' for its latest privacy blunder, saying that it "should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them", but it notably didn't make any changes to privacy settings; the LA Times now reports that regulators may investigate the new feature.
This latest incident also won't help Facebook's wider image; as designer James Baker told us, "facial recognition seems innocuous and helpful in iPhoto, where the user controls and corrects it. But on the web? That's getting a bit creepy."