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Facebook 'eroded online privacy of its users' by introducing facial recognition technology

June 8, 2011 - Washington

Social networking site 'Facebook' has 'eroded the online privacy of its users' by introducing its facial recognition technology without giving them any prior notice, a senior technology consultant at Sophos has said.

This feature, which has been expanded from the United States to 'most countries', automatically identifies people in photos without their knowledge.

Its 'Tag Suggestions' feature uses facial recognition technology to speed up the process of labelling friends and acquaintances that appear in photos posted on Facebook. If a user's friend tags his or her photo, the technology will automatically scan the user's face and then try and find matches among all their pictures.

Tagged photos typically appear in the user's photo stream, and his or her friends' streams, depending on the settings, the Daily Mail reports.

Internet security consultant firm Sophos first reported the change yesterday, after Facebook users reported that the site had enabled the facial recognition option in the last few days without giving users any notice.

"Yet again, it feels like Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users by stealth," Graham Cluley, a senior technology consultant at Sophos, wrote.

Facebook, which announced in December that it planned to introduce the service in the United States, admitted yesterday that the feature has now been made more widely available.

On being asked about the Sophos blog post, Facebook said in an emailed statement that "we should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them".


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