Privacy and Facebook Facial Recognition


Back in June, Facebook shocked the world when it announced its acquisition of Israeli-based facial recognition software startup The company’s technology was already used by Facebook to help suggest photo tags but the acquisition led to many questions from Facebook users and privacy advocates. Users want to know whether people who aren’t friends will be able to tag them in pictures, including pictures they do not want to be tagged in. Meanwhile, privacy advocates want to know for what else the Facebook facial recognition technology will be used.

Privacy advocates received an answer when an article from the Daily Mail unveiled the Facedeals camera, which is currently being trialled in Nashville, TN. According to the article, the camera uses your Facebook photos to identify who you are the second you walk into a bar, restaurant, or shop. Once the camera matches your face to your identity, it will then send a coupon to the user’s mobile phone using the Facedeals app. Facebook claims that the app will piggyback on the popularity of Facebook check-ins, and that only users who have authorized the app through Facebook will receive deals.

Yet individuals are still understandably concerned about how the Facebook facial recognition technology affects their online privacy. Even if we are still several years away from seeing Facebook facial recognition cameras when we walk into a shop, this technology can still be used by other Facebook users to affect one’s reputation. Here are a few steps that you can take today to protect your privacy to lessen the effects of Facebook facial recognition technology:

Protect Your Privacy and Opt out of Facebook Facial Recognition

All users are opted into facial recognition by default, so you will have to go through a five-step process to disable use of this technology whenever a friend or stranger uploads a photo of you to the site. The steps are:

  1. In the top right corner of the screen when logged into Facebook, click on the arrow beside the “Home” link to access a dropdown menu.
  2. Choose “Privacy Settings.”
  3. Scroll down to where it says “Timeline and Tagging” and click on the “Edit Settings” link.
  4. The last option is “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?”
  5. Change the default from “Friends” to “No One,” and hit “Done.”


Now friends will no longer receive a tag suggestion when uploading photos of you that might only feature you in the background of an event you were trying not to be photographed at, or even at your current location, which provides valuable information to thieves who target empty homes based on social media check-ins and tags.

Protect Your Privacy and Prevent Tags from Appearing Without Your Approval

While opting out of Facebook facial recognition prevents some photo tags, there is still the possibility of a close friend tagging you in a photo you would rather not be tagged in. Photos of you shared on Facebook will be indexed by Google and show up when someone searches for your name, even if you untag yourself after the photo appears. There is another option that will prevent tags from appearing on your profile, in the first place. By adjusting your privacy settings, you can keep photo and status tags from appearing on your profile without your approval:

  1. Repeat the first three steps used to opt out of Facebook facial recognition
  2. Go to the third option, titled “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline.”
  3. Change the default from “Disabled” to “Enabled,” and hit “Done.”

Now your online reputation will be protected in the short term from photos or statuses that others tag you in. These changes will protect you moving forward, but there is no guarantee that photos or statuses you were tagged in previously have not become indexed by Google. Our last recommendation is that you fill out the form on the right side of this screen for a free reputation management consultation from Reputation911. We will check to see what photos or other content you have been tagged in is currently online impacting your online reputation, and explain how this content can be removed or suppressed. You can also call us directly (1-866-MY-REP-911) for your free consultation!

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