Today’s Privacyfix: Disable Facebook’s facial recognition

Pictures are a core component of the Facebook experience. Most of the time, you’re either posting pictures or looking at pictures.

One fun feature of Facebook is that you can be tagged in a photo, which allows people to find pictures of you more easily, and connects other people’s pictures with your timeline. To make tagging easier, Facebook has implemented a facial recognition feature. Essentially, Facebook scans your photos, gathers information about your face (such as the distance between your eyes, mouth or other features), and creates something like a “face print” that is relatively unique to you. When someone else uploads a photo, Facebook’s systems can look through the face prints of their friends, and suggest to them that it’s you.

We’ve heard from users who are concerned that Facebook may use your face print in other, unexpected ways. What if someone you don’t know catches you in the background of a photo that they’ve taken? What if someone doesn’t know what your name is, snaps a photo of you, uploads it to Facebook, and finds you as tag suggestion. Are face prints available as part of government inquiries?

If you conclude that you would rather limit the use of your face print as much as possible, Facebook gives you an option to turn off the application of facial recognition to tagging photos. You can find it by visiting this link. Here’s what this privacyfix looks like:

Given the importance of this feature to many people, we’ve added it as a new setting you can check using Privacyfix.

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3 Responses to Today’s Privacyfix: Disable Facebook’s facial recognition

  1. James says:

    Is this actually disabling facial recognition, or is it just stopping notifications?

  2. Jim Brock says:

    Great question — I wouldn’t assume that Facebook actually deletes your “face print,” but at least they aren’t using it to suggest tagging to your friends, if that is your choice.

  3. Jon says:

    They are likely still storing your biometric template for all tagged photos so that templates do not need to be rebuilt in the off chance that you would turn back on this feature.

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