Facebook disables tag-suggestions tool amid privacy concerns

It just got a bit harder for your friends to tag you in embarrassing photos.

Social media giant Facebook is getting rid of its familiar tag-suggestions feature, which used facial recognition to identify photos of you and suggest that your friends tag you in them, and vice versa.

In place of tag suggestions, however, Facebook will roll out a similar facial-recognition tool — which was introduced to only some accounts in December 2017 — to all users. This feature, as opposed to just suggesting tags, will recognize you, and notify you, if your profile photo is used by someone else or if you appear in photos where you haven’t been tagged.

“People who newly join Facebook or who previously had the tag-suggestions setting will have the face-recognition setting,” the company said.

But users will be able to opt out.

If you don’t currently have the facial-identification tool on and do nothing, Facebook won’t use facial recognition to identify you or suggest tags. Plus, features like Photo Review, which notifies you when you appear in photos you aren’t tagged, won’t be activated.

People will still be able to tag friends manually, the company explained, but it won’t suggest that you to be tagged in photos if you do not have face recognition turned on. Facebook’s face-I.D. tool still does not recognize you to strangers. And the company said it doesn’t sell its technology or share your face-recognition information with third parties.

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The social media company said it would notify account holders of the updates Tuesday, and that the “notice will include information about the new features and options to learn more about how we use face recognition, along with a button to turn it on or keep it off.”

The changes are part of an effort to make privacy settings clearer, Facebook said. The company stated it’s providing users with more “opportunity to review information about our technology and the features it powers so you can make the choice that’s right for you.

“We’ve continued to engage with privacy experts, academics, regulators and people on Facebook about how we use face recognition and the options you have to control it.”

Data privacy has been in the public eye for some time, with a spotlight on social media giants like Facebook. An Illinois lawsuit accused Facebook of violating the state’s Biometric Information Privacy Act by illegally collecting and storing data of millions users.

And Facebook is still dealing with the fallout from the 2016 presidential campaign, in which experts argued Russian hackers used Facebook user data to interfere in the election.