On Tuesday, June 7, Facebook quietly turned on a new feature called Tag Suggestions. This new feature uses proprietary facial recognition software to automatically recognize friends in your uploaded photos and suggest that you tag them by name. While some people may be a little nervous about privacy concerns related to this new feature, I can’t help but say “Wow, that’s pretty amazing!”
The concept is simple. You upload a group of photos to Facebook for sharing. Facebook processes the photos and groups them according to the faces it finds. If Facebook believes it recognizes the people in the photos, it will zoom in on their faces and suggest a name to tag them with. If Facebook does not recognize the people in the photo, it will ask you for names.
By joining Facebook you agree to give up a certain amount of privacy. Facebook provides a number of options for you to restrict who can access your information. There is even a new option to opt out of facial recognition. If you’re concerned about privacy, you should get to know those settings and set them according to your desires. Facebook has had some blunders in the area of privacy, and the user community should hold their feet to the fire in that area. Nonetheless the overwhelming majority of Facebook users are comfortable sharing large amounts of information with Facebook and their social network, and I believe they will be happy with the new feature.
It’s too soon to tell just how accurate the facial recognition software is, but the fact that Facebook has developed a system to comb your social network for similar faces then turn around and identify those faces in new pictures really is pretty amazing. Having worked in the technology industry and watched the march of technology innovation for the the last two decades, you’d think I wouldn’t be impressed by much. That is not the case; I continue to be amazed by the ways companies like Facebook persist in innovation by finding new ways to engage an ever-growing customer base with easier and easier ways to use their services.
How to Prevent Your Name from Showing Up in Tag Suggestions
If you do not want your name to show up in Facebook's new Tag Suggestions feature, you can log into your Facebook account and do the following.
- Select Account -> Privacy Settings
- Click Customize settings
- Next to "Suggest photos of me to friends", click Edit Settings
- In the pop-up dialog box, click Enabled and change the setting to Disabled
- Click Okay to exit the dialog box