Facebook switches off facial recognition tool

September 21, 2012
A view of Facebook's logo in May 2012 in Washington, DC. Facebook said Friday it had switched off in Europe the facial-recognition tool that prompts users to "tag" photographs uploaded to its website following a privacy investigation.

Facebook said Friday it had switched off the facial-recognition tool that prompts users to "tag" photographs uploaded to its website following a privacy investigation.

The feature was identified by regulators as one of the main privacy threats posed by the social networking site.

Ireland's , Billy Hawkes, who launched the probe because Facebook's European operations are based in Ireland, said he was happy that the site had agreed to remove the tool in Europe by October 15.

New users are already unable to access it.

Hawkes said: "I am satisfied that the review has demonstrated a clear and ongoing commitment on the part of FB-I to comply with its data protection responsibilities."

He added: "By doing so it is sending a clear signal of its wish to demonstrate its commitment to best practice in data protection compliance."

Facebook said in a statement: "In light of discussions with our regulator in Ireland, we have agreed to suspend the Tag Suggest feature in Europe."

It said it would work with the Irish authorities "on the appropriate way to obtain user consent for this kind of technology under European rules".

was keen to encourage members to "tag" their friends in photographs because it ensures they are shared more widely, but it has been a controversial addition to the site.

Explore further: Facebook agrees to changes to improve transparency

Related Stories

Facebook agrees to changes to improve transparency

December 21, 2011

(AP) -- Facebook Inc. has agreed to make several changes to its services to improve transparency and better protect the personal data of its millions of users outside of the U.S., following an in-depth audit of its international ...

Facebook told to clarify privacy outside US, Canada

December 21, 2011

Facebook has to make its privacy policy easier to understand and to act on, the data commissioner in Ireland, where the social networking website has its international headquarters, said Wednesday.

Group says kept in the dark about Facebook case

July 30, 2012

An Austrian group fighting for clearer privacy policies on Facebook complained Monday that the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) was keeping it in the dark about proceedings.

German official: Facebook must delete faces (Update)

August 15, 2012

(AP) — A German data protection official called Wednesday for social networking site Facebook to delete biometric profiles of people stored without their explicit consent, saying they breach European privacy rules.

Facebook failing on privacy promises: campaign group

April 3, 2012

Facebook has failed to meet a deadline to improve its privacy policies that was set by the data commissioner in Ireland, home to it overseas headquarters, an Austrian advocacy group said on Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.