Saturday, June 11, 2011

Facebook Security 3 - Facial Recognition


Once again Facebook has created a cool-feature-with-creepy-implications, and once again FB has decided to activate it for everyone without telling us about it or making it easy to choose not to participate. I'm talking about Facial Recognition, an upgrade to FB's capabilities that allows it to identify your face from the crowd of millions of pictures uploaded every day. As I understand it, FB is compiling a database of pictures linked to names and the ability to recognize faces. This might make tagging people in pictures a little easier, but it could also mean a stranger could tag you (I think so far FB doesn't currently allow that, but their M.O. is to enable features without warning and by default, so . . .) in a picture you didn't even know was taken. Sketchier than the auto-tagging feature is the fact that FB has started compiling this information (your face matched to your name) at all, without much warning and certainly without asking. Even Google, which is first-and-foremost a search engine, thinks this is too invasive. One creepy implication of this kind of database is that a stranger could take your picture and then use it to find your name and then everything the internet knows about you. Might be cute in a movie but IRL ("in real life") we might not want to go there. 

1. Opt-out of auto-tagging:
 Go to Account (in the upper righthand corner of the screen)

 Select Privacy Settings from the drop-down menu
 Click "Customize Settings"
 Under "Things others share" there is a section "Suggest photos of me to friends" click "Edit Settings" to the right.
 Click on the box that says "Enabled" and toggle it to "Disabled."

2. Ask Facebook to pretty please stop compiling photo identification data on you.

This is the part that should help prevent strangers from identifying you by photo.

While signed into Facebook, click this link. It will open a  page in the Help Center from which you can message the Facebook Photos Team. The pre-written text is "Please remove all photo summary information associated with my account that could be used to make photo suggestions." and I would leave that to avoid confusion. Send it. You will receive no confirmation that they have obeyed, however. 

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