Facebook’s vaguely worded face recognition “announcement” coincided with a legal setback

From Fast Company:

Perhaps you saw a post this morning on your Facebook feed touting face recognition for “more features.” According to the social network, this ability to analyze users’ faces–which before only helped users tag photos–is becoming even more widespread.

. . . .

For background: Facebook has long analyzed biometric data in photographs to make it easier to tag people. In fact, this technology has been the subject of many lawsuits–most of which took place in states like Illinois, which restrict companies’ ability to collect and store biometric data without consent. (Facebook did announce last year that it would update its privacy settings to better advertise its face recognition features.)

It seems the purpose of this new Facebook post isn’t so much to herald new face-recognition features, but to disclose vital information–namely, that you can opt out of face recognition. After seeing the post, I was surprised to learn my face-recognition setting was on, so I turned it off. Others I talked to say their setting was already off. Either way, this looks an awful lot like Facebook gaining consent from its users to read their face data.

The timing is very interesting. Yesterday, for example, a federal judge ruled that Facebook will be subject to a class action lawsuit about its biometric gathering and storage program. The company had filed to dismiss the case, but the U.S. District judge ruled against it.

Link to the rest at Fast Company

12 thoughts on “Facebook’s vaguely worded face recognition “announcement” coincided with a legal setback”

  1. They say this feature is for our own safety: we’ll be able to trace and stop (?) unwanted use of our images by strangers, or something like that. It did sound fishy to me, and I didn’t like the very subtle way they announced it. Turned it off.

    • Hi, Sasha. If you don’t mind, where did you find the switch? I just spent like a half hour fooling around with the settings on my wife’s fb (I’m not one of those participants) and I can’t find the apocryphal single Off/On switch for facial recognition.

      • Hi! Sure: I clicked on the down pointing arrow next to the “?” and chose “Settings” from the drop down menu. On the next screen (on the left side) you should see among other settings “Face Recognition” — click on that. The next screen will show you if “you’ve said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to FB recognizing your face”. If you see “yes” — the feature’s on. No “on/off” button, but there’s “Edit” — click on that and choose “No”. That should turn the feature off.

        • Thanks very much, Sasha!
          Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the Settings menu my wife sees does not include “Face Recognition”. Not sure what’s going on, but…
          Anyway, I appreciate your help!

        • I don’t have it. I don’t post pictures of myself (other than my avatar), so I don’t need to hunt anything down. I am thinking about making a watermark to put on any pictures I do upload, though (mostly crafting stuff I do).

  2. They seem to be rolling this out. I looked yesterday, it wasn’t in my settings. This morning I got the announcement, and the setting was there, but my husband, who didn’t get the announcement yet, had no setting. Very nasty that they are doing this in such an understated way. Easy to miss.

  3. For those worried about the dirty tricks of facebook, you should check those settings again in a week or so – and all your settings every month as they’ve been known to ‘reset’ your settings for you. (Just little things mind you, like marking all your private comments public …)

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