Facebook just added a simple 'on/off switch' for its facial recognition features

The new tool will notify you when friends and mutual acquaintances upload

The new tool will notify you when friends and mutual acquaintances upload

If you set this feature to "off", Facebook won't be able to recognize you in photos and videos. But computers are getting better at recognizing us, and now Facebook has made a decision to use that to spot photos you're not tagged in. For other photos, you'll only get notified if you're in the audience for that photo so as to protect the uploader's privacy and not alert you about photos you're not allowed to see. We're all aware that Facebook knows more about us than we'd like, but this might be a step too far. It applies only to newly posted photos, and only those with privacy settings that make an image visible to you.

"The words "face recognition" can make some people feel uneasy, conjuring dystopian scenes from science fiction", wrote Rob Sherman, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer.

Furthermore, as The Verge points out, harassers and bullies could potentially take advantage of this new notification tool by uploading embarrassing photos or videos which would then automatically be shown to the target. The company already uses facial recognition to suggest friends to tag in photos by scanning the photo for faces already stored in its system.

The features demonstrate how Facebook is using a trove of facial recognition data, a type of data that has become a key focus for tech titans.

Facebook is also planning to roll out a "simple on/off switch" to replace the settings for individual features that use face-recognition technology.

If you do opt in to facial recognition, Facebook has a new feature to "help you find photos that you're not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture".

Meanwhile, Facebook is also introducing a feature that will tell visually impaired users with screen readers who appear in the photos in their News Feed, even if those people aren't tagged.

As optimistic as Facebook is about the new use case for its facial recognition technology, it also recognizes that this is not something that everyone is going to want to participate in. The post is titled: " Hard Questions: Should I Be Afraid of Face Recognition Technology? . "The person who blocked the original account is in control, and must initiate contact with the new account in order for them to interact normally".

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