Facebook will be investigated by the European Union’s sector on data protection, Bloomberg reports this afternoon, because of new facial recognition technology added to profiles that users have to opt out of through a typically convoluted security settings process. Yes, again. Facebook’s latest SkyNet-ish addition recommends friends to tag in pictures based on how people look. “Tags of people on pictures should only happen based on people’s prior consent and it can’t be activated by default,” said an EU representative. Regardless of where this probe goes, let’s all turn this shit off right away.
When a Facebook user adds a photo to their page, the feature uses facial-recognition software to suggest names of people in the photo to tag based on pictures in which they have already been identified. Before the feature was rolled out, users could tag pictures manually without permission from their Facebook friends.
But the most immediate and egregious problem is that the feature is “active by default on existing users’ accounts.” Facebook’s defense of the creepiness includes lines like, “Tag suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested.” But still! is about all we can muster.
As TechCrunch notes, “if you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, you do not get to approve that tag before it shows up in your ‘Tagged Photos’ album or in friends’ News Feeds — you have to detag photos after the fact.” What if you are not at a computer or on a smartphone? We know, we know, DELETE YOUR PROFILE. (It’s so hard.)
Here are some steps to take, short of deletion:
1. Click the Account button on the top right of the page.
2. Then Account Settings
4. In the Privacy section, click Manage
5. Customize Settings, followed by Suggest photos of me to friends — then press Edit
6. Turn Enabled to Disabled
Lest you look ugly on the internet!