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Facebook's Photo Tagging is Back
By: Jessica Cherok
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A couple of years ago, Facebook debuted a new photo tagging feature using facial recognition technology. "Debuted" may be too strong a word for it, though. More accurately, Facebook released its tagging suggestion feature, and a whole bunch of people freaked out, subsequently prompting an announcement of its debut.

Facebook had not gotten prior consent from its users before loading their images into the facial recognition database. Suddenly people were finding themselves — sometimes erroneously — tagged in photos without either their friends of themselves doing the tagging. Facebook issued a statement that the photo tagging feature was meant to make sharing and tagging your friends in pictures easier, but many were were too creeped out by the existence of the facial recognition database to care for the level of convenience.

But was Facebook’s facial recognition and photo tagging feature really creepy? Even if you liked the added tagging convenience, it would be hard not to admit that Facebook’s secretive collected of our likenesses is slightly unsettling. At the time, it was the most comprehensive facial recognition database in the world. Still is, especially since Facebook bought Instagram and got all the hipsters’ faces, too.

In response to the backlash over prior consent, Facebook revamped its privacy settings. Included in the overhaul was an option to opt out of the tagging feature. Privacy concerns continued, and Facebook chose to suspend its automatic tagging, forcing users back to the laborious task of manually tagging their friends in photos.

However, as of February 2, Facebook’s photo tagging feature is back; at least in the United States.

In the re-release of photo tagging, Facebook has once again defaulted to allowing tagging to occur for all users. Meaning, if you were one of those who disabled the tagging previously, the setting won’t remain under this re-release. You’ll have to go back and change the privacy settings once again.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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