Feeds

Facebook: 'We should've been more clear' on face-scanning tech

Tries to downplay stealth roll-out

Top three mobile application threats

Facebook has tried to prevent yet another privacy row engulfing the social network by admitting it "should have been more clear" about the roll-out of its facial recognition technology.

The company also posted an updated blog post explaining that its Tag Suggestions function had been switched on by default for the majority of its users.

"When we announced this feature last December, we explained that we would test it, listen to feedback and iterate before rolling it out more broadly," said a Facebook spokeswoman.

"We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them. Tag Suggestions are now available in most countries and we'll post further updates to our blog over time."

But that only came after The Register and presumably other publications questioned why Facebook hadn't informed its users that the tech was being folded into their accounts, stealth fashion.

As we reported yesterday, security guru Graham Cluely first spotted that Facebook had applied its facial recognition tech to more of its accounts, without notifying its users.

The company started testing the tech in December when it introduced facial recognition to its Stateside users.

At that point, Facebook at least had the courtesy to pen a blog post explaining the new function, which somewhat creepily scans existing photos in a given account, then looks at photos in other accounts, before suggesting to individuals to "tag" their "friends" accordingly.

However, as Cluely noted yesterday, Facebook chose the "opt out" rather than "opt in" method of adding the tech. That decision, plus the lack of a blog post detailing the roll-out, meant that many users of the network were unwittingly exposed to Mark Zuckerberg's face-scanning tech.

"We launched Tag Suggestions to help people add tags of their friends in photos: something that's currently done more than 100 million times a day," said the Facebook spokeswoman.

"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," she added.

The Facebook spokeswoman also batted away suggestions that the company's users' privacy was being eroded due to the "opt out" nature of the facial recognition function. She said "existing privacy settings" were always respected. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill
Just 49 MPs oppose Drip's rushed timetable
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.