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Facebook Changes Privacy Settings to Enable Facial Recognition


Image via cogdogblog

Have you heard about the controversey surrounding Facebook’s new (well, kind of) face recognition feature? They’ve had the feature for some time, but now you can be sure that it has been activated on your account—without your permission, of course.

The New York Times had one of the better posts about it yesterday:

Facebook is pushing the privacy line once again, according to a new report from a security and antivirus company.

According to the report, from Sophos, Facebook recently began changing its users’ privacy settings to automatically turn on a facial recognition feature that detects a user’s face in an image. Once the person’s face is detected, the Web site then encourages Facebook friends to tag them. Facebook introduced this feature last year for its North American users; it is now rolling it out globally.

Facebook never fails, it seems, to edge us closer toward having our own moments of absolute panic concerning our personal privacy online. Or sheer terror, even.

For years, Facebook’s communications strategy to users has always been to limit awareness while rolling out new features, then deal with the consequences later on. Although controversial, this has worked out in their favor time and time again. The negative press and social media chatter dies down in a week or two and most users willingly accept the new, invasive features—or at least they slowly warm up to the idea. After all, we need Facebook more than they need us, and they know it.

At the end of the day we will most likey accept these new privacy-restricting features, regardless of how awful they are or how much they break sacred ethical business standards, forcing us to give up the ability to control what is rightly ours. They’ve done their homework; they’ve done their research; and they’ve compelted countless hours of user studies.


Image via badjonni

Facebook is not the uneducated toddler lacking any comprehension of what it means to be play nice that we think they are. Because unfortunately for us, their strategy actually works. And it will continue to work even better in the future as our culture continues to shift from one that values privacy to one that is more transparent and open. If you don’t believe me that this is happening, find the nearest high school student and ask for his or her opinion. Being more open is a social norm for many Facebook users already, even to the point where they might not know what you are talking about if you ask. Is this a universal view? Of course not. But I dare you to find a college freshman and ask, just to be sure.

In the end, I suppose, both businesses and consumers benefit as long as Facebook has the balance of an Olympic gymnist while intelligently positioning themselves smack on the center of the fence.

Facebook continues to finds ways to connect our social lives more and more for our continuing pleasure and satisfaction. They do this while at the same time collecting far above and beyond the most extensive data set of human behavior in existence for the sole purpose of exploiting the spoils to feed profits of gargantuan proportions. Hey, it’s a business. Corporate social responsibility need not apply—we’ll continue to feed our addiction regardless. They know exactly how to give us what we want and push the limit just enough each time that it becomes impossible to “just say no” to Facebook. We’ll get over it, eventually.

How to Disable Face Recognition for your Facebook Account

Jeez, this was definitely not easy to find. The New York Times article shares how it can be disabled, or you can just go to your account’s privacy options page and follow the images below.

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