The European Union is launching an investigation into Facebook’s new automatic facial recognition feature and whether or not it violates privacy protection laws. The U.K. and Ireland are looking into potential security violations, too, according to Businessweek.
Facebook under the microscope for privacy concerns again
The new Facebook feature, which is enabled by default, scans photos users have uploaded to their accounts and offers suggestions for people to tag in the images. The auto-recognition feature attempts to supply names to go with faces, and regulators are concerned that users must opt out instead of opt in.
Facebook added the new feature without a clear announcement this week, and now is claiming it could’ve handled the launch better.
“We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them,” Facebook said, according to InformationWeek. “Tag Suggestions are now available in most countries and we’ll post further updates to our blog over time.”
Since Facebook’s facial recognition feature can pick individuals out of photos, it runs the risk of revealing more information about the social network’s users than they may feel comfortable with. Facebook, however, said suggestions are limited only to people that are already in user’s friends list.
“Tag Suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested,” the company said.
Opting out of automatic facial recognition involves a trip into Facebook’s privacy settings. If you want to disable the feature but aren’t sure how, be sure to check out The Mac Observer’s Quick Tip detailing the steps.