Tagging photos is hardly new on Facebook. In 2012, Facebook temporarily suspended the feature to make what it called technical improvements. This may or may not have had something to do with the outcry from privacy advocates and lawmakers both in the U.S. and Europe.
Facebook re-enabled this feature on Jan. 31, reminding us that "this is the same feature that millions of people previously used to help them quickly share billions of photos with friends and family."
As far as features go, it works pretty well. Sometimes it's a little bit creepy how good Facebook is at recognizing our faces. If you're a fan of complete captions in all of your photo albums, you'll appreciate having the functionality back. But if you worry about privacy, there's something you should know: The facial recognition feature is enabled by default. The only two choices are "friends and "no one," but you should at least be aware of this very important setting.
Even enabled, no one is tagged automatically. Facebook is very clear in explaining that when a photo that looks like you is uploaded, a tag is suggested. The idea is to save time, not to violate anyone's privacy.
But you can opt out, and in my opinion you should. Here's how:
- Click on the gear icon at the top of your Facebook profile.
- Choose Account Settings.
- On the left side of the page, choose Timeline and Tagging.
- You should see three sections. Under the third one, titled "How can I manage tags people add and tagging suggestions?", the last selection is called, "Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?" You can change that option from friends to no one. (Note that if you did this when the feature was previously enabled, your choice may still be there. But it's worth checking.)
If being tagged in a photo doesn't concern you, it is acceptable to leave it on the default setting - especially since Facebook will always notify you first. But those notifications can add up, and you don't want to approve something you'll regret.
Facebook's privacy settings have improved drastically over the past several years, but I still wish it was easier to find them. This type of change is a good reminder that you should be aware of the choices and selections in the privacy and account settings. Case in point, this particular change strikes me more as privacy, but the menu isn't under privacy settings. I recommend revisiting the settings under account and privacy once a month.
Explore further: Facebook: Internal glitch caused hour-long global outage (Update)