Amid lawsuit, Facebook turns facial recognition feature into an opt-in

Amid lawsuit, Facebook turns facial recognition feature into an opt-in

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Facebook announced Tuesday that its facial recognition feature will no longer identify users in their photos by default, giving them an option to opt-in (or out) of it.

Facebook's facial recognition feature was introduced as a "tag suggestion" feature that automatically suggests a user’s name as a tag on an uploaded photo. Two years ago, it was updated to let users know when they were in images that they haven't been tagged in.

The new “opt-in” policy requires Facebook users to agree to the feature, giving them the ability to toggle face recognition on or off. If a user chooses to turn Face Recognition off, Facebook will “delete your face recognition template," which is used to track a face across the platform. New users on the platform will have their facial recognition deactivated by default while existing users will receive a notification about the change.

The change follows a $5 billion fine imposed on the company by the FTC for deceptive practices, including turning on the "tag suggestion" feature by default for new users on the platform.

It also comes at a time when Facebook is fighting a class-action lawsuit that alleges the tech giant violated Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act by collecting and storing data for millions of users without their consent through its “tag suggestions” feature. Earlier this month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco rejected Facebook's effort to undo the lawsuit in a 3-0 decision.

Announcement: Facebook announced the opt-in feature in a post by artificial intelligence applied research lead Srinivas Narayanan.

"Facebook has always given you control over whether we use face recognition technology to recognize you in photos.....There’s also an opportunity to review information about our technology and the features it powers so that you can make the choice that’s right for you. Finally, Facebook’s face recognition technology still does not recognize you to strangers. We don’t share your face recognition information with third parties. We also don’t sell our technology."

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