Facebook to let users opt out of facial recognition on photos

Facebook plans to discontinue its photo-tagging suggestions feature and will allow all users to say they don’t want Facebook to use facial recognition technology on their photos, the company announced on Tuesday.

The social media giant’s announcement came after it began unveiling its face recognition feature two years ago. Face recognition tells users when a photo has been uploaded which includes their face.

Under the new system, Facebook will ask users whether they want to turn on the face recognition feature. This “opt-in” model will allow users to have more control over what Facebook does with data about their face.

“Starting today, people who newly join Facebook or who previously had the tag suggestions setting will have the face recognition setting and will receive information about how it works,” Facebook artificial intelligence (AI) researcher Srinivas Narayanan wrote in the blog post.

“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,” he added.

The face recognition feature will effectively replace the “tag suggestions” feature, which has been at the center of ongoing litigation.

Court battle: Last month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Facebook must face a class-action lawsuit over whether it violated user privacy with its facial recognition tools.

The plaintiffs in the case have argued that Facebook violated an Illinois law — the most expansive of its kind in the country — when the company instituted “Tag Suggestions” without users’ explicit consent in 2010.

Facebook’s “Tag Suggestions” used facial recognition technology to suggest which users might be in the photo.