Facebook has come a long way ever since it started in 2004. It’s safe to say the platform has gone through a total makeover.

Every day you come across a new feature and the frequency of those changes/updates is faster than any other platform.

One of the recent features uses facial recognition technology and if you follow this platform religiously, you must have received the notification for the same.

The platform first started using this technology back in 2013 but at that time the usage was limited to suggesting tags only in the images.

However, the company recently expanded the scope of this technology by notifying the users every time, someone added a photo/video of theirs regardless of whether or not it was tagged.

But, don’t worry. If you are not comfortable with this option, you can always turn the notification off.

How it works

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The technology behind recognizing faces is nothing new to Facebook. It’s been some time since the company started using this technology to suggest friends and tag them in the photos.

It wasn’t until recently that the Facebook announced the expansion of the facial recognition feature to combat fake accounts as well as notify the users every time someone tried to post a video/photo of a user.

For this technology to work, it’s important to turn on the face recognition feature. The network then makes use of the machine learning system to analyze the pixels in the image of the user particularly the face area. It then creates what you can call a ‘template’. It’s basically a string of numbers and every user is assigned an absolutely unique number. You can think of it as a unique thumb impression.

Every time a new photo is uploaded, Facebook uses those templates and compares it to the image to suggest a tag when there’s a match.

How it stands to threaten your safety

Many of them think that this feature only has negative implications, but it can be used as a way to identify and fight cyber harassment and to just make the whole act of tagging easier. But, if we cross that line, we stand on the brink of major privacy abuse.

Face Privacy

Let’s not forget that Facebook has a longstanding history of misusing user information.

The social media network has many times overexposed the private information of users to advertisers just because it makes money off of it.

And so, while it may be too early to dictate how this technology stands to threaten the user privacy, we cannot entirely ignore it. Not all users may be comfortable with the fact that their information might be made public without their knowledge.

Of course, it’s not as simple as someone randomly clicking your photo in a bar, uploading it on the Facebook and then waiting to harvest your information based on the tag. But, yes, it will make things easier for wrongdoers to harvest your data.

How to turn off the feature

If you are not big on using this feature, don’t worry, you can always turn it off and then turn it on whenever you feel comfortable with it.

Simply head to Settings>Face Recognition and then select yes/no for the question – ‘Do you want Facebook to recognize you in videos and photos?’

According to the Facebook spokesperson, the new setting is off by default. However, if your tag suggestion setting is set to ‘friends,’ then the face recognition will be set by default to on.

Benefits of the feature

Let’s not be all negative and think only about the negative aspects of this feature. Apparently, Facebook strongly feels that face recognition technology might actually help the company in recognizing fake accounts. Now, that’s a smart move and actually in line with putting the technology to some good use.

Benefits in future

Obviously, the users will also be notified every time someone adds their photo. In this way at least, they will remain aware of where exactly their photographs are being used.
If you were to believe Facebook, then this move is aimed at better management of accounts. But, if you’re one of them who listen to the cynical side of your mind and fear, it might damage you more than doing any good; you can always turn this option off.

Final thoughts: –

Of course, any new change or update (remember when Instagram changed its icon) is accompanied by a lot of naysay and resistance. In this case, the stakes for repercussions are even higher. It will be surprising to see how much acceptance or rejection this option will get.

Facebook is one of the most popular social media platforms and the one to roll out the maximum number of updates is always in the news. It’s not the first time the platform has received such mixed reviews for launching one of the updates and it surely won’t be the last.