Facebook has apologised for the way it rolled-out a new system that recognises users' faces.
BBC reports that Facebook has released an official statement apologising for the confusion.
"Tag Suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested.
"If for any reason someone doesn't want their name to be suggested, they can disable the feature in their privacy settings.
"We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them," said the spokesperson.
It all stems from a new feature that Facebook rolled out worldwide called "Tag Suggestions."
Now when you upload a photograph to the site, Facebook will scan and attempt to suggest which of your friends are visible so that you can tag them more easily. Many people have voiced their concern over the feature, suggesting that it could be misused to identify strangers and some have even suggested that they simply don't like the idea of a website learning what they look like. In reality, the only people that're suggested for tagging are people you are already friends with, but this wasn't made explicitly clear when Facebook rolled out the feature worldwide, despite the fact that it has been available in the US since last year.
Security experts Sophos have been quite vocal about Facebook's haphazard attitude towards privacy and have urged users to update their privacy settings immediately.
Graham Cluley, senior consultant with security firm Sophos, said that users' annoyance was less about the product's purpose than the manner in which it was made live.
"Once again Facebook seems to be sharing personal information by default," said Mr Cluley.
"Many people feel distinctly uncomfortable about a site like Facebook learning what they look like and using that information without their permission."
Disabling Facial Recognition Suggestions
While it's fun to debate whether or not Facebook is wrong to enable this technology without telling people, the more important thing is making sure you have setting you're comfortable with. Here's a step-by-step on how you can disable facial recognition suggestions in your account.
- Log into Facebook.
- In the top-right corner click on Account and go to Privacy Settings.
- Click "customize settings" (toward the bottom-middle of your screen).
- Look for the section titled "Things others share." The permission you accidentally gave Facebook to use facial recognition suggestions is located in the "Suggest photos of me to friends" option. Click on "Edit Settings" to change that.
- Choose "Disabled" and then push "OK."
If you're still uncomfortable with how Facebook is treating your privacy, you can join one of the several efforts such as signing Sophos's open letter to Facebook to try to prompt more permanent change.