Facebook photo tag suggestions: What's so bad about them anyway?

Facebook recently rolled out a new facial recognition feature for its Photos app. Like many new Facebook features, this one has stirred up controversy immediately.

Facebook recently rolled out a new facial recognition feature for its Photos app. Like many new Facebook features, this one has stirred up controversy immediately.

Initially, the feature asks Facebook users to match faces and friends, after which Facebook should automatically remember those features and tag users in groups far quicker. Of course, that isn't foolproof. It also has a lot of people talking about privacy standards on Facebook again - to the point where European Union data-protection regulators have launched an official probe to see if this has broken any laws.

While it probably hasn't (at least stateside), it certainly has tongues wagging about whether or not this invades privacy further. Personally, I don't have a strong opinion one way or the other. My first instinct and action was to disable the service, which seems to be the pattern with almost any new Facebook feature these days. Users really should be allowed to opt-in to services and see how they work before being thrown into them head first. (Literally this time.)

Facebook isn't the first photo application to come up with the idea of face recognition with tag suggestions anyway. Both Apple's iPhoto and Google's Picasa photo-editing software programs include this function, which comes in handy when sorting through massive libraries of photos. However, these apps don't upload the results so they're just kept private to the computer owner.

Nevertheless, there are some arguments for and against having such a feature available on Facebook:

PROS:

  • Tagging multiple photos of the same people is far easier
  • Saves time and energy when tagging photos
  • Only friends can tag other friends in photos

CONS:

  • Photos of you that you might not want tagged will be
  • Photos not of you might get tagged as you accidentally
  • Even more people you don't want seeing photos of you could have access to them
  • It's just another way to waste time on Facebook instead of doing something more productive

The last point is the most subjective, but it's definitely true to some extent. How do you feel about Facebook's face recognition feature for photos? Should it stay or go? Or does it even matter?

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