Facebook apologises over face tagging feature

Facebook is well known for causing controversy when it comes to privacy. Many have criticised the company for the way it handles and stores its users' data, particularly when it comes to the default privacy settings being used and the latest controversy is no different.

It all stems from a new feature Facebook has recently rolled out worldwide - 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 are 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.

The BBC have reported 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"

Security experts Sophos have been quite vocal about Facebook's haphazard attitude towards privacy and have urged users to update their privacy settings immediately.

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They had announced that feature a while ago before implementing it, when they had partnered with face.com

Face.com is the real privacy nightmare though... a smart face recognition public API, free to use, where recognized and tagged faces are stored on some Israeli servers.

This is why I routinely check my privacy settings on facebook, so they can't sneak new stuff in and then announce it 5 months later. I'm not terribly concerned about this one, but their habit of announcing these sort of things after they've been rolled out is annoying.

StrykerMikado said,
People are just afraid of innovation.

which is why some countries are stopping nuclear plant development...buncha panzies.

I for one like this feature pretty much. Mostly because sometimes I have to upload 20+ photos and tagging each person one by is a nightmare.

I didnt know this feature was introduced and I turned it off as soon as I learned about it. Such "features" should not be automatically enabled.

In reality, the only people that are suggested for tagging are people you are already friends with, but this wasn't made explicitly clear when Facebook rolled out the feature worldwide

Wow, if people aren't bright enough to realize and/or notice this, they don't even have a right to complain... *sigh*

Did they honestly think Facebook could suggest them people from another part of the globe? Seriously?

Once again a ton of posts of people claiming we have no rights to privacy. You guys are sickening. I'd be willing to bet you are kids who don't know any better.

And no I don't have a facebook account and never will, I'm not that stupid.

Biggest problem about this feature is...there is no separation of minors to adults when it comes to face recognition...so what happens is...these adults who have 500+ friends...they will post pictures of themselves with their kids..and these kids have their own facebook accounts..so what ends up happening...the face recognition will name them if you dont turn the feature off. And who knows what these 500+ friends you have are doing with that information about your kids.

Bad bad idea by Facebook.

texasghost said,
Biggest problem about this feature is...there is no separation of minors to adults when it comes to face recognition...so what happens is...these adults who have 500+ friends...they will post pictures of themselves with their kids..and these kids have their own facebook accounts..so what ends up happening...the face recognition will name them if you dont turn the feature off. And who knows what these 500+ friends you have are doing with that information about your kids.

Bad bad idea by Facebook.

Unless your friends with their kids then no it wont.
Assumingtly if you have added kids then you know them and know what they look like already. Otherwise if you ahve lots of kids on your facebook profile you don't know you should be more worried about Chris Hanson turning up at your door.

Facebook will recognise your kids yes. If they have facebook then their already in the public domain and an extra picture is going to make no difference. If not you can simply choose to take off the suggested tag or not upload the pictures in the first place. At least this way if one of your kids slips in you will know about it.

texasghost said,
Biggest problem about this feature is...there is no separation of minors to adults when it comes to face recognition...so what happens is...these adults who have 500+ friends...they will post pictures of themselves with their kids..and these kids have their own facebook accounts..so what ends up happening...the face recognition will name them if you dont turn the feature off. And who knows what these 500+ friends you have are doing with that information about your kids.

Bad bad idea by Facebook.


If you don't want your kids tagged by any feature in Facebook, you're intended to press the little X button next to their tags before approving the auto-tagging.

Finally. Why are you friends with people you don't trust enough to see photos of your kids? Only friend people you trust enough to invite at your home. That'll simplify a whole slew of privacy issues on Facebook.

Finally. Why are you friends with people you don't trust enough to see photos of your kids? Only friend people you trust enough to invite at your home. That'll simplify a whole slew of privacy issues on Facebook.

So are you going to tell me that people that have 500+ friends on facebook you know and trust and have known for many many years?

Finally. Why are you friends with people you don't trust enough to see photos of your kids? Only friend people you trust enough to invite at your home. That'll simplify a whole slew of privacy issues on Facebook.

So are you going to tell me that people that have 500+ friends on facebook you know and trust and have known for many many years?

So this seems to be a trend now. Facebook violates users' privacy over and over and they apologize everytime and suckers left and right forgive them and brush it off like it is nothing. Way to act live drones......

ManOfMystery said,
So this seems to be a trend now. Facebook violates users' privacy over and over and they apologize everytime and suckers left and right forgive them and brush it off like it is nothing. Way to act live drones......

It's often because there are so many friends and even family on Facebook now, so stopping to use it would be worse than stopping to use mail and instant messaging to many today.

Also, it's perfectly sensible to complain about things you don't like despite continuing to use a service. Voicing concerns is both OK and very important regardless if we're talking about Google, Windows, iOS, or the Neowin Forums.

You know.. all this talk about the "default level of privacy not being enough" is getting to me. It's a site...you don't like it? Don't sign up. You don't buy a car and then complain that the manufacturer didn't throw in a 6 point racing harness, or run flat tires. There seems to be this recurring theme with people over the last two decades....not taking responsibility for their actions on a global scale. People blaming video games/movies/music for kids actions instead of the parents, parents blaming other kids, Blaming Facebook for not providing enough security,

Thousands of years ago we didn't have people holding our hand until the day we died...we're getting soft as a species, and if we ever EVER plan on surviving, people are going to have to start manning up for sh*t and take responsibility for their own actions.

You don't like it? close your facebook page..they didn't ask you to sign up.

SirEvan said,
You know.. all this talk about the "default level of privacy not being enough" is getting to me. It's a site...you don't like it? Don't sign up. You don't buy a car and then complain that the manufacturer didn't throw in a 6 point racing harness, or run flat tires. There seems to be this recurring theme with people over the last two decades....not taking responsibility for their actions on a global scale. People blaming video games/movies/music for kids actions instead of the parents, parents blaming other kids, Blaming Facebook for not providing enough security,

Thousands of years ago we didn't have people holding our hand until the day we died...we're getting soft as a species, and if we ever EVER plan on surviving, people are going to have to start manning up for sh*t and take responsibility for their own actions.

You don't like it? close your facebook page..they didn't ask you to sign up.


Due to the nature of sites like Facebook everyone (in your friendship group at least) must use the same site in order for it to be of any use. This makes your cars analogy a somewhat difficult comparison.

As for your fond memories of our violent history, unfortunately progress has been made. Facebook is a useful tool, and one that whether you like it or not a very large number of people use. Due to the way in which the user base is locked in to using the one site, as I mentioned above, sometimes this means people HAVE to whine about privacy in order to have issues rectified to some degree.

Without these "hand hold handing whiners" shouting about privacy concerns we would be left with only the choice between losing our privacy altogether or never ever adopting social networking via the internet.

Having said that, I think people are overreacting about this. I can't really imagine how it could be used in a negative way, for advertising purposes on the part of Facebook or otherwise. And it seems like a neat feature.

People who voluntarily upload their photos and personal information to an online social site getting paranoid about their privacy...that's really funny.

TRC said,
People who voluntarily upload their photos and personal information to an online social site getting paranoid about their privacy...that's really funny.

But what if your friends upload a picture of you?

Kushan said,

But what if your friends upload a picture of you?


if you really have a problem with your photos being online....then don't let people take them...duh.

SirEvan said,

if you really have a problem with your photos being online....then don't let people take them...duh.

So screw albums and photographic memories?

Artillery said,

So screw albums and photographic memories?


If you're worried about where that picture might show up, then yes.

SirEvan said,

if you really have a problem with your photos being online....then don't let people take them...duh.

Umm...what if you were a bystander and somehow your picture got taken while you didn't even know?

What if your picture was taken. You noticed the picture being taken and you requested the picture taker to remove your pics. Why does the photographer have to listen to your request?

Do you get into a brawl with the photographer to get your picture removed and risk going to prison for starting a fight?

Artillery said,

So screw albums and photographic memories?

What? Nobody is saying "screw your albums and photographic memories".

What we don't want is being automatically tagged, publicly or privately, by a stupid ****ing corporation.

What we want is that you as a person have the decency to request permission of every person in your pictures before you take the picture.

If you took pics by mistake, ask the person if it is ok to keep their pic. Way too much work isn't it? Thought so. Lazy photographers.

Edited by Jebadiah, Jun 9 2011, 8:21am :

Skwerl said,
Aw, Christ! Privacy paranoia! It only looks for your "friends." How difficult is that to understand?

Exactly. You cant 'identify strangers'. The only way a stranger will ID you is if youre stupid enough to approve friend requests from people you dont know.

The hype over facebook's privacy is much ado about nothing.

alarson83 said,

Exactly. You cant 'identify strangers'. The only way a stranger will ID you is if youre stupid enough to approve friend requests from people you dont know.

The hype over facebook's privacy is much ado about nothing.


If a certain government authourity was searching for a particular person, they've got pics of them for a computer system to 'learn' and know the rough where-a-bouts of the person, using the EXIF data stored in nearly all cameras and phones there days it wouldn't be all that hard to find possible suspects.

n_K said,

If a certain government authourity was searching for a particular person, they've got pics of them for a computer system to 'learn' and know the rough where-a-bouts of the person, using the EXIF data stored in nearly all cameras and phones there days it wouldn't be all that hard to find possible suspects.

But they would need to be a friend of the suspect?

Oddly enough, my friends knowing what I look like isn't high on my list of security failures so I really couldn't care

The day I log on and Facebook has determined from a picture of me with blue eyes that I in fact have blue eyes will be scary one.

Or if I type "waf" into my phone and it asks me if I am wanting to type "waffles"

When will this chaos end.

Actually, those features, like facial recognition and search suggestion, that you mentioned are probably old technology.

Electronic Punk said,
Or if I type "waf" into my phone and it asks me if I am wanting to type "waffles"
For example, just go to Google.com, and type "waf".

This is no issue here, even if the privacy nuts accuse Facebook of keeping a database of everyone's tagged faces in the background, what is there to stop that from already happening even if they didn't make this feature public.

Simon- said,
This is no issue here, even if the privacy nuts accuse Facebook of keeping a database of everyone's tagged faces in the background, what is there to stop that from already happening even if they didn't make this feature public.

You just made a worse issue.

Simon- said,
This is no issue here, even if the privacy nuts accuse Facebook of keeping a database of everyone's tagged faces in the background, what is there to stop that from already happening even if they didn't make this feature public.

LOL Did you even read your comment before clicking Submit? You have shown us all the worst possible privacy issue while saying "privacy nuts" in the same sentence. How are you not a privacy nut? How the **** do you get off calling other people nuts for caring about human rights?