Facebook Facial Recognition Could Get Creepy
In early April, Engadget posted a short article confirming a rumor that Facebook would be using facial recognition to suggest the names of friends who appeared in newly uploaded photos. You’d be allowed to opt out of tagging, and only friends would be able to tag each other in albums. Nevertheless, a commenter beneath the story quipped, “Awesome! Now I can take pictures of cute girls at the grocery store or at the park, upload them and Facebook will tell me who they are! (I’m pretty sure that’s not [how] it works but I’m sure it will get there.)”
The commenter’s confidence says a lot: Facial recognition may be just one more way for Facebook to push the visual part of the social graph (photos of us) toward being more public and far less private. Facebook has a history of asking for forgiveness after the fact instead of asking for permission in advance, and its new face-recognition feature could become the latest example of a seemingly innocuous development morphing into a serious threat to the privacy of our (visual) data. And as usual, some Facebook users will like the convenience of the new features so much that they will forget the privacy trade-off altogether, or just choose not to worry about it.