Facebook's new automated photo tagging feature raises privacy concerns

InformationWeek News Network, December 21, 2010

Sophos says that users should have the ability to opt-in to automatic photo tagging rather than opt-out

IT security firm, Sophos is reminding Facebook users to keep up-to-date with their privacy settings as Facebook announces its latest controversial feature. The social network is launching automated photo tagging initially in the US, but will roll out the feature across the rest of the world in coming months.
Facial recognition software will mean Facebook can match people's faces in photos with other images where they appear. The tagging will not be completely automatic, as the tags will just be suggestions, but users will be identified by default unless they opt-out.
Once users have been identified to Facebook by one friend, they run the risk of being identified by Facebook to other friends. Even people who aren't on Facebook, or who choose not to identify themselves openly in uploaded photos, may nevertheless end up easy to find in online photos.
"While this feature may be appealing for those Facebook users that are keen to share every detail of their social life with their online friends, it is alarming to those who wish to have a little more anonymity," said Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos. "Rather than allowing users to opt-out of this feature, surely Facebook users should be given the option to opt-in. A recent Sophos poll showed that 90 percent of Facebook users think that all Facebook features should become totally opt-in. With this new feature, I'd say that this percentage is likely to rise."
If users are not willing to be part of this feature, they need to make sure that they opt-out when the feature is live. Keeping on top of new features and ensuring that privacy settings are up-to-date on Facebook is essential for Facebook users to ensure that they're not sharing too much personal information online.
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