Facebook introduces new facial recognition and privacy features

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Facebook Inc. announced today that it will begin using its facial recognition technology to recognize users in any picture, whether they are tagged in it or not.

It's easy to identify your face if Facebook is only looking for you among the photos your friends have uploaded. In fact, that's put Facebook afoul of state laws and using this technology is outright banned in Canada and Europe. Facebook adds that the new feature improves the site's accessibility options for visually impaired users, as it allows the app to describe who's in the photo even if everyone isn't tagged.

While there are benefits to the new tool - seeing potentially problematic photos before they spread, being alerted when someone else attempts to use a photo of you as their own profile photo, or simply not missing memories of fun events - some Facebook users are undoubtedly going to be uncomfortable with Facebook taking this matter into its own hands.

Facebook is also using facial recognition to create new tools for those with visual impairments.

But Facebook doesn't shy from explaining that this service could also be used to catch people who are using photos for less-than-wholesome purposes, such as using your photo as their Facebook profile photo.

This new setting will be able to be turned off with a simple on/off control.

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"The words "face recognition" can make some people feel uneasy, conjuring dystopian scenes from science fiction", wrote Rob Sherman, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer. Thanks to the technology, people that use screen readers will know who appears in photos that show up in their News Feed, even if people aren't tagged. The post is titled: " Hard Questions: Should I Be Afraid of Face Recognition Technology? .

Are you anxious about frenemies posting unflattering images of you on Facebook?

"We're doing this to prevent people from impersonating others on Facebook", Facebook says, referring to a common problem that's more colloquially known as "catfishing".

Facebook's use of facial recognition will be governed by an on / off switch.

Facebook will also allow users to ignore a conversation in Messenger and move it out of your inbox without having to block the sender.

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