The new feature, announced in a blog post Tuesday, is part of Facebook’s new face recognition technology, the same technology that suggests friends to tag in photos or videos.
“These new features help you find photos that you’re not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture,” Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, director of applied machine learning at Facebook, wrote. He added that the company is doing so to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook.
How it works
According to Candela, users will be notified when they’re in a photo — if they’re part of the target audience for the post.
Users will then be able to tag themselves if they’d like, message the user who posted the image, let Facebook know it isn’t your face or report an image for breaching Facebook rules.
New features for visually impaired users
In addition to this feature, Facebook announced new tools for users with visual impairments.
The company launched an automatic alt-text tool, which describes photos to the visually impaired, two years ago. On Tuesday, they announced that the new facial recognition technology will allow those using screen readers to know who appears in photos in their News Feed even if those people aren’t tagged.
Don’t want Facebook to recognize you?
No problem. Facebook plans to roll out a simple on/off button for features that use face recognition technology, Candela wrote. It’s a substitute for the settings feature.
“We designed this as an on/off switch because people gave us feedback that they prefer a simpler control than having to decide for every single feature using face recognition technology,” he wrote.
If you opt-out of facial recognition, Facebook will delete the face template used to find you in photos.
Privacy concerns around Facebook’s face recognition tech
Facebook first rolled out face regonition technology in 2010 and added the feature that suggests people to tag in photos in 2015.
According to Wired.com, some privacy advocates have called for Facebook to require its users to opt in, rather than opt out, making the choice a conscious user decision.
Facebook is currently fighting a lawsuit in Illinois that revolves around a 2008 state law known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act.
BIPA essentially makes it illegal to “collect or use biometric data, such as a ‘scan of hand or face geometry,’ without rigorous disclosure of methods, intentions and guarantees regarding that data,” Tech Crunchreported in 2016.
The suit alleges the company knowingly failed to include this disclosure and breaches the law with its opt-out approach.
The new features rolled out to most of Facebook’s more than 2 billion users around the globe, but not in Canada and the European Union, where Facebook doesn’t offer facial recognition tech.
Read Facebook’s blog post at newsroom.fb.com.