Do you ask your kids before posting or tagging their photos? Do your kids ask their friends? Some people may ask before tagging but most do not if just posting a photo. Tagging a person in a photo assigns their name to their image. So people believe if you do not tag, the photo is anonymous.
With facial recognition software, photos may become identifiable without tags. Facial recognition software allows searches based on images. Using a prior image, this software searches through photos and videos to find like images. With this technology, people could conduct a search with just a person’s picture and uncover other untagged photos.
On Tuesday, Facebook added a facial recognition application. According to Facebook’s blog, ” (w)hen you or a friend upload new photos, we use face recognition software—similar to that found in many photo editing tools—to match your new photos to other photos you’re tagged in. We group similar photos together and, whenever possible, suggest the name of the friend in the photos.” Facebook’s privacy settings automatically enable this application.
Facebook users can turn off this feature and not allow others to automatically tag you. Disabling the feature requires a user to go to their account “privacy settings” and click “customize settings” at the bottom of the page. Once here, scroll down to a list of options called “things others share,” and click on the button that says “suggest photos of me to friends.” Clicking on this option turns off the facial recognition feature.
Recently, Google discussed the development of facial recognition software at a conference in California. CEO Eric Schmidt stated, “as far as I know, it’s the only technology Google has built and, after looking at it, we decided to stop.” Mr. Schmidt indicated Google stopped because of the privacy concerns with combining facial recognition and mobile technology.
Although Google has said it will not pursue this technology without privacy settings in place, the technology clearly exists. Other companies may decide to move forward and utilize facial identification. With the uncertainty surrounding this new technology, going forward it is best to teach our kids to ask before they post or tag.