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Facebook’s Tag Suggestions, Friend or Foe?

June 9, 2011 | By | No Comments

If you have tried uploading a photograph on Facebook during the last week, you may have noticed a new feature that allows Facebook assign tags (individual names) automatically to your images (must click save for tags to actually take effect), making larger album uploads easier.   This basically means that when you go to tag your photos on Facebook, they will offer suggestions for assigning names to the faces of your friends the technology recognized. As expected controversy followed because of security/ privacy issues surrounding a web- tool that automatically recognizes faces and applies an actual name to the photograph.

The first problem deals with the fact that Facebook slowly integrated the facial recognition technology as a default photo setting without notifying users immediately of the changes.  Facebook waited until Tuesday to publish information on the new features, which they have been implementing for months.  In a recent post, Brenna Ehrlich, an author from Mashable recently discussed how to stop your friends from being able to automatically tag you in their photos.  Why does Facebook push privacy changes as default settings for users without notifying them?

The next question comes from anyone who is paranoid about security like me.  Think about the consequences of a cyber-attack on Facebook users like Sony suffered with its PlayStation 3 database. How can Facebook prevent hackers from accessing your personal information if they already have access to important data through hacking one of your friends’ accounts?  The Facial recognition feature seems like it will give cyber terrorists a good target to aim for when trying to breach the vast Facebook user database.

from Facebook Blog

Lastly, I want to discuss the issue of privacy.  In the digital world we live in, being visible and transparent are keys to success.  How can you network now without putting your personal information out there?  It’s really hard to trust someone you do not know; social networking bridges this gap with the sharing of useful information, creating new but strong connections.  Having said all of that, how the heck can I prevent my personal information from being shared if I am not made aware of any privacy changes before they happen?  This is like showing up to the airport for a flight, seeing that it’s cancelled on the TV board and on your way home from the airport you receive call from the airline letting you know your flight was cancelled.  Your business should be the first to explain, but unfortunately we find out from 3rd parties that the brand has made serious changes to their service offerings impacting the customers’ personal privacy.

Obviously I remain skeptical about any auto-tagging feature online; I only need to be tagged in photographs I want to be tagged in.  I do not want my name to become a marketing piece for some brand I that I never knew existed.  Let me know how you feel about the new Facebook feature.

Do you feel like it violates privacy?  Do you see benefits other than better time management for the Face Recognition on Facebook?

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