The social media company that promised to focus on users’ privacy just got caught doing the opposite. Of course, we’re talking about Facebook.
An investigation by Consumer Reports has forced Facebook to expand a major change to its privacy settings. And you should make sure to change the setting immediately.
Read on to find out what Consumer Reports caught Facebook doing. We’ll also tell you how to protect yourself from the latest Facebook shenanigans.
Facebook using face-recognition technology
It turns out that not all Facebook accounts have access to a privacy setting that can stop the company from using face-recognition technology on users’ images.
Facebook has announced that it will work to provide that access to all users soon. But if it had not been for an investigation by Consumer Reports, Facebook likely would not have made the change.
In May, Consumer Reports found that Facebook’s Face Recognition setting was missing on some accounts. Facebook created the setting almost 18 months ago.
Facebook started using facial recognition because they claimed it would protect users. It recognizes photos of you that have not been tagged to help protect against strangers pretending to be you online.
Facebook started using facial recognition in 2010 and introduced a setting called Tag Suggestions. The setting allowed people to prevent their names from appearing on the site when Facebook identified their faces in photos.
In its investigation, Consumer Reports found that users who still didn’t have access to the Face Recognition setting had the old Tag Suggestions instead. Facebook claimed that the Tag Suggestions allowed users to opt-out of Face Recognition.
Facebook, however, had no information on its site to support its claim. The company admitted as much in a recent blog posting announcing the expansion of the Face Recognition setting to all users.
“The tag suggestions setting, which only controls whether we can suggest that your friends tag you in photos or videos using face recognition will no longer be available,” according to the Facebook blog.
Change the Face Recognition setting now
If you have access to the Face Recognition setting, here’s how you can opt-out of the feature by using either your desktop browser or mobile app.
On your mobile app, tap on the three lines on the far right of the toolbar to open your Menu. Click Privacy. If you have access to the setting it will be around the top of your menu page.
Click on the Face Recognition setting. From there you can delete the facial recognition template and opt-out of any features that use the technology
You will also see text that says, “Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos?” Check the No option and no more Face Recognition.
The desktop browser setting follows similar steps. Facebook says that some users who are just now getting the setting may need to update their app to access the Face Recognition option.
Facebook’s facial AI is powerful
A few years ago, there were claims that Facebook’s facial recognition artificial intelligence (AI) technology was better than the FBI’s. Whether those claims are real remains unknown, but there’s no doubt the company’s AI is powerful.
We know that Facebook can recognize our faces in other people’s photos. However, its AI can do more than that.
The company’s AI does a remarkable job in detecting the items around you in a photo. That was inadvertently discovered by users during a massive Facebook outage earlier this summer.
During the outage, photos were not appearing on the page. But some interesting text was.
Where the photos should have been, users were instead seeing blank boxes with descriptions such as Image may contain: Nature, people standing, sky. It’s part of Facebook’s work to increase the accessibility of photos by providing descriptions for people with visual impairments.