Disable Facebook facial recognition?

By Anne Collier

Even though there isn’t anything inherently dangerous about the way Facebook uses facial-recognition technology, parents may want to disable it for their children – or even themselves. A short article with screen shots in the Huffington Post walks you through it. Basically, you just “Customize [your privacy] Settings” and, where it says “Edit Settings,” you disable “Suggest Photos of Me to Friends” under “Things Others Share.” So why isn’t the feature dangerous? Because the scary articles that suggest a child’s photo could be suggested to any one of the 700 million members of Facebook, including potential stalkers and predators, are simply wrong. If you’re going to have a conversation with your child about it, a better focus would be who’s on their friends list – hopefully just “real life” friends, acquaintances, and relatives, which is generally the case anyway – but think together about how important the facial-recognition feature really is to you and them. It’s also a good idea for everybody, regardless of age, to revisit their privacy settings every now and then, customizing or calibrating them to your current social and professional situation. For more detail on how FB’s facial recognition works, see my ConnectSafely co-director’s article on this in the San Jose Mercury News. [See also “A new book & fresh look at online privacy” and “Facebook’s facial recognition tech & kids.”]

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