Facebook are now rolling out their facial recognition-based “tag suggestions” service across the world, after first trialling the technology in the US. Now, this is something that’s bound to ruffle a few feathers in terms of privacy, but the actual achievement of getting this to work shouldn’t go unnoticed. As expected, the service recognises your friends’ faces from previously tagged photos, so when you’re tagging an album, it offers you suggestions at to who may be in a picture based on their features. Pretty clever stuff.
Now, to some people the words ‘facial recognition’ immediately ring alarm bells in terms of an invasion of their privacy, and the ever-increasing presence of big brother looking over their shoulders. For the record, I’m undecided over whether the whole thing creeps me out or not. On the one hand it could be a hugely useful tool – you get back from a holiday with a group of friends, or you upload all the photos from a wedding – you’ve then got to go through and tag the same people over and over again. There was already a system in place, whereby anyone you’d previously tagged in an album would be shortlisted whilst you were tagging, which did make things a lot easier. But having the option to let a computer programme do all of the hard work for you is quite appealing.
But then again, people don’t necessarily want to be tagged in every photo they happen to feature in. And now having a social network second guessing where you may have been and who you have been spending your time with. However, these aren’t compulsory features of Facebook, so you are able to turn them off. But as with a lot of privacy issues these days, people would get less shirty about things if it was ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’ from the word go.