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what it is, how it works and how it can be disabled

27 mayo, 2021

Until now, if a friend uploaded a photo of you to their Facebook account, they had the option of adding a tag to identify each person in the image. If the identified user did not want to be, the solution was to remove the tag manually. And why do I say so far? Because Facebook has already activated, without warning, one of the most controversial features that are remembered and that the way we do that process will likely change: the facial recognition.

Although this function was already available since December for American users, until now, and very possibly due to privacy issues, had not made the leap to users from the rest of the world. Don’t you want to use it? Well, unfortunately, in all accounts it has been activated by default. You will then have to resort to deactivating it.

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How does it work?

The goal of Facebook’s facial recognition is to make it even faster and more automatic uploading images and identifying people that are in them when adding their tags. Let’s say, for example, a colleague of yours uploads a photo in which several friends appear. When uploading, Facebook will scan the image with special facial recognition software and compare the results with those of other photos you are tagged in. If they match, it will suggest your name to your friend and he will be able to add the tag automatically by clicking Save. Logically, this function will only be available among users who are friends on Facebook.

This tool can be very useful especially when it comes to group photos. Suppose you attend a family reunion and there are more than a hundred photos to be uploaded. With Facebook’s facial recognition, the website itself will group similar faces and suggest a name from among your friends on Facebook. If it can’t find it, it will ask you to tell them who it is, and it will be automatically saved in all images in which it appears.

A rather controversial feature

Since Facebook announced facial recognition as one of its novelties on its platform, it has given much to talk about and not exactly for the better. Many users have expressed concerns about possible privacy issues that this tool can carry. Now not only does Facebook have access to your photos and those of your friends, but it knows how you are physically and can look for you in them. What will be next? Upload a photo and have Facebook tell you who it is? It sounds crazy, but at this rate …

Is this new about facial recognition? Not quite. Picasa, Google’s service, implemented a similar feature in its day. The difference with the case at hand is that the Facebook user does not have to give their consent For this social network to look for your facial features, it already does it by default. You can deactivate it, yes, and in fact we explain how to do it below, but this will only serve to prevent Facebook from automatically tagging. The data, our facial features, will continue to be stored, and precisely for this reason even the American and European authorities are investigating the case.

Leaving aside the problems with privacy, other types of problems also occur to me, a priori. According to Facebook’s own indications, its algorithm compares the features and only labels the user if the percentage of matches between two faces is very high. But how accurate is this technique? Could I fail and give false positives? The truth is that I would not like my name to appear as a tag on the face of another person who looks like me overnight.

How to disable Facebook facial recognition

If you are also concerned about everything we have discussed above, you will be interested in reading this. On Facebook they are quite used to activating, by default, all the news that they introduce in the platform in the profiles of all their users, so unless you have specified otherwise, you will have activated this new feature in your profile. Do you want to deactivate it? Don’t worry, we tell you how to do it in two simple steps.

First of all, you have to go to Account >> Privacy Settings. From there you can edit things as important as who has access to the information and images you publish. As you will see, there does not seem to be any change from what there already was. We therefore enter Customize settings.

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You will arrive at a new page where Facebook allows you to specify more about the privacy settings of your account. In our case, and to deactivate facial recognition, we must go down to Things Others Share and edit the settings in option Suggest me for my friends’ photo tags. As you will see, the function is activated by default, so in the drop-down menu we will choose to deactivate it.

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Useful or not, what fails is the implementation

Facebook’s facial recognition, as we have seen, can be very useful, but it is normal that it has raised criticism. If a small company announced this feature, many would be undeterred, but today Facebook has more than 500 million users And it could create a sizable physical features database, a nightmare for all of us who care about privacy. How could all this criticism have been saved? Letting users could choose, really, if they want to use this function or not, and not activate it in all profiles by default. As simple as that.

More information | Facebook Help: Photo Tagging In Genbeta | Facebook’s facial recognition scales globally and tags our photos automatically