Facebook to include profile photos in its facial recognition database?

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured

Facebook profile pitcureFacebook has published a summary of the updates it's proposing to make to its Data Use Policy and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities which shows a large volume of rewriting.

Most of the changes are minimal, but one area has caught people's attention - photo tagging.

Facebook has highlighted how it plans to use members' profile pictures as an identification tool to allow their friends to tag them in photos.

Apart from in Europe where it has been suspended, when you currently upload a photo to Facebook it uses facial recognition and current tags to suggest tags for those people who appear in the picture.

This proposed new update will allow the social network to take this one step further, by also allowing facial recognition of your main profile picture as a key indicator of your likeness on the service.

We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend's pictures to information we've put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you've been tagged.

Facebook's chief privacy office Erin Egan, unsurprisingly, thinks this is a good thing.

She believes additional tagging will afford users a higher level of control over their personal information because it will make it easier for them to identify posted photos in which they appear. They will then have the option of either de-tagging or reporting photos which they are unhappy about.

Egan also said that any Facebook users who feel uncomfortable with facial recognition in general can opt out of the tag suggesting feature completely, including the use of profile pictures.

But for those who don't opt out, Egan discussed how facial recognition could evolve further in the future:

Can I say that we will never use facial recognition technology for any other purposes? Absolutely not. [But] if we decided to use it in different ways we will continue to provide people transparency about that and we will continue to provide control.

Facebook's facial recognition tool has always been controversial since it's initial introduction in 2010.

The Irish Data Protection Commission warned in 2012 that it could fine the network up to £80,000 as it reviewed the company's compliance with Irish and EU privacy laws. Facebook responded by suspending facial recognition in Europe where it remains unavailable to this day.

Other changes to the site's governing documents include clarification on the use of member details within Sponsored Stories after the settlement of a lawsuit earlier in the week which covered the use of members' data in advertising campaigns:

We may use your name, profile picture, content and information in connection with ads or commercial content

Facebook users have seven days in which to read the company's new proposals and provide feedback on the changes.


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6 Responses to Facebook to include profile photos in its facial recognition database?

  1. Freida Gray · 335 days ago

    I may be the only one on here who uses Facebook games,but I for one am not very comfortable with those games having access to my friends list.Many of my friends don't use Facebook games so why should their names appear on my "Invite friends " section ?

  2. shelle48 · 334 days ago

    I don't use any facebook games,ever.

  3. David Williams · 332 days ago

    I'm quite happy I don't have a facebook profile. Beginning to think social media is irrevocably eroding our rights to keep our information private. I think even on a personal level people should invest in devices such as a firewall to protect themselves and their data.

  4. Nigel · 332 days ago

    "Can I say that we will never use facial recognition technology for any other purposes? Absolutely not. [But] if we decided to use it in different ways we will continue to provide people transparency about that and we will continue to provide control."

    Yeah, right...but they define "transparency" and "control", so I'm not especially inclined to accept Ms. Egan's assurances that "additional tagging will afford users a higher level of control over their personal information". This is a company whose founder (Mr. Zuckerberg) is on record as saying his users are "dumb f_cks",* while he continues to find new ways of monetizing their personal information to his benefit at the expense of their privacy.

    For those users who already are irrevocably addicted to Facebook and cannot conceive of life without it, stop reading now.

    For those who still want to have some control over their privacy, the solution is simple: Dump your Facebook account.

    *Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/well-these-new-zuc...

  5. jeffwhtg · 332 days ago

    Facebook - the perfect tool for law enforcement!

  6. Deramin · 331 days ago

    This is exactly why I stopped using a picture of myself for my profile years ago. I sincerely hope this break's Facebook's system. It's nice that they're adding new features, but I'm sick and tired of having to clean up my Facebook security. It's not choice or control when every few months they replace the security settings you set with whatever they want.

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.