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Facebook’s New Facial Recognition Photo Tagging: How to Use (Or Not Use)

Social Media Marketing in NH

If you have a Facebook account (and hopefully one for your business as well), you know that Facebook photos are a great way to share news, pictures and memories with friends and family members.

The photo function can even help you keep tabs on your most far-flung friends, whether it’s your son touring the country in a band, your California cousins, or your old classmates.

But thanks to Facebook’s new Tag Suggestions tool for photos, the site now knows not just your name, age, hometown and what you “Like,” but also what you look like. If you haven’t updated your privacy settings lately, you’re already using the Facebook’s new facial recognition app every time you upload photos–and it’s being used on photos of you as well.

The new Tag Suggestions tool pre-tags a user’s friends using facial recognition software to match newly uploaded photos with photos that have been tagged elsewhere.

It also suggests the name of a friend in the photo. It then opens a window that lets you choose to keep, remove or edit the tags.

The software works, but it’s not perfect. Facebook frequently makes mistakes about who is actually shown in a picture. (I’ve noticed that it does especially poorly when subjects are squinting in bright sunlight–meaning that you can end up tagging people you haven’t seen in years in the pictures from last weekend’s beach trip).

Unless the software has been disabled, the user creating the album has to go through the individual photos and remove or correct tags as necessary. It makes it easier to tag friends, which has its pros and cons. It can be quicker, and if you’re uploading dozens and dozens of pictures from a trip or wedding, it’s pretty convenient.

But if your friend approves all of the automatic Facebook tags, you end up tagged in everything, whether you like it or not. These tags, and automatically scanning users’ photos with facial recognition software, is something that many people are saying borders on violating users’ privacy.

That picture of you mid-sneeze, or tucking into a fried dough the size of your torso? Hey, at least it’s only visible to the 600 million or so people who use Facebook.

If the new Tag Suggestions app skews a little too “1984” for your taste, you can disable it easily from your Facebook privacy settings page. Here’s how:

  1. Under the “Account” drop down menu, choose “Privacy Settings.”
  2. In the bottom left-hand corner, choose “Customize Settings.”
  3. In the second section, “Things others share” you’ll find a setting called, “Suggest photos of me to friends.” Choose “Edit Settings” and then “Disable” from the drop down menu in the window that opens.
  4. Click, “Okay.”


Facebook Facial RecognitionDisabling this setting both turns off tag suggestions for your pictures and keeps you from being suggested in other people’s “Tag Suggestions” window when they upload pictures. Also, here’s another great post on how to disable facial recognition photo tagging on Facebook from email marketing company Blue Sky Factory.

While you’re on Facebook, be sure to “Like” Vital Design! And if your business doesn’t have a Facebook page–or it needs a little help–check out our tips and tricks for creating a Facebook fan page and contact us at 603.766.1902 or by email.

What do you think about Facebook’s new privacy settings? Will you follow our tips to disable Tab Suggestions? Or do you like the convenience of having photos of you easily tagged?