Gotta Watch: Facebook privacy concerns
Facebook is unveiling a new facial recognition feature.
June 8th, 2011
12:58 PM ET

Gotta Watch: Facebook privacy concerns

Facebook has announced that it will begin scanning all users' pictures with facial recognition software, allowing the site to automatically recognize users' faces and identify them in photos. This service, like many of Facebook's previous changes, is automatically active for all users, so the only way to avoid it is to opt out. Thing is, it has the potential to make your face appear tagged in photos that you may not want to be associated with. This isn't the first time Facebook has been under fire for privacy issues. In today's Gotta Watch, we look back at some of Facebook’s past privacy snafus.

Mark Zuckerberg reacts to privacy concerns – Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to a backlash from users after a change in privacy settings made user information public by default. After users complained about their information being distributed to third parties and developers, Zuckerberg implemented changes and simplified privacy settings.

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Do you 'like' Facebook's features? – In 2010, Facebook implemented the then-controversial, now-ubiquitous, "Like" feature on various websites. The "Like" button, now replaced by a "Recommend" button (see it up there on the left hand corner of the screen), raised concerns over privacy issues and outraged many users over whether Facebook should be able to share their information with other websites. Like other Facebook features, it involved a complicated "opt out" process.

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Facebook wants your digits – Earlier this year, Facebook requested users' mobile phone numbers. But why would Facebook need your number? Is it is safe to provide that info to app developers, games and other third-parties?'s John Sutter takes a look.

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Facebook's growing influence – At more than half a billion users, Facebook has created a place for itself at the top of the social media heirarchy.  The company is changing the way information is shared, and at the same time changing our expectations of privacy online. So that begs the question, does it even matter if they violate our privacy, or will we just come back to them no matter how much we feel violated?

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Filed under: Facebook • Gotta Watch • Technology • Uncategorized
soundoff (83 Responses)
  1. Tex

    Just because they have the technology to do something doesn't mean they should.... especially without specific authorization from the person being effected. The more facebook does things like this the more likely I am to just discontinue using it.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Katran Miller

    Let's see if Facebook really does let me delete my account this time. The last time I deleted it and received confirmation it was removed, a Nigerian hacker honest to gosh broke into it and reactivated it, impersonated me and attempted to bilk my friends out of cash with some poorly-spelled song and dance that I was stuck in London and had been mugged. (Google the "my plight email hack" - it's all over the web).

    Facebook has changed its privacy settings so many times, and always, when it decides to make some new part of your personal information public, it then lamely says "oh, well, you can opt out if you want to." After, of course, all its business partners, hackers and search engines have collected and stored all the newly-released information.

    Other sites get hacked, but they do at least TRY to keep your information private. Facebook is in the business of getting you to share more and more of your information, and then gradually adjusting privacy settings so everything it originally promised was private is now public and then once it's gotten the guinea pigs acclimated to that level of theft it finds new kinds of information that it encourages you to share. It makes me sick that people are supporting this level of invasion, and that you can't find a website without the danged like button promoting it.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. datdude

    To all of those who use the site....question: do you think the CEO Zuckerberg has H I S personal cell phone number and other information out there on Facebook??? I think N O T. That should tell you something......

    June 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Riff*Raff

    Facebook creating a digitized "book" of faces. It was just a matter of time. Soon enough, the air

    June 8, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Shalomodion


    June 8, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Riff*Raff

    Sorry, do not know what happened to that comment !? I must have zigged instead of zagged lmao

    June 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Caligula

    Zuckerberg and Facebook have too much control iover users lives which is why I deleted my account. No silly social trend is worth having my privacy compromised without any due warning. These folks at FB have proven themselves untrustworthy one too many times for my comfort.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Joe Schmo

    Facebook is a FREE service. Therefore they can do what they want and you can't complain about it. If you don't like how they do things, don't sign up. Simple.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Facebook is NOT a FREE service. Mr Zuckerburg doesn't do this for his health.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • alex

      If it was truly free their would not be 3 ads on every screen, if it were truly free mark wouldnt be a billionaire. Walking down the sidewalk is free, dosnt mean i like my sidewalks with a load of cracks in them.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      That's a logical fallacy. Being free does not give them the right to "do anything they want." As a US company, they are still subject to US laws and, at a non-legally-binding level, societal conventions. Ultimately, FB is a business like any other. They're in it to make money. They just do it using something -other- than subscriptions.

      Now, your ultimate point, that if you don't like it you don't have to sign up, is completely valid and I wholeheartedly agree with you. Unfortunately, it's become ubiquitous lately and very, very, hard to escape.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cathleen

    I have been off Facebook for 4 months now and it feels great! Give it a try.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Paul

    How do we opt out? Might have been a good idea to put that info in your article!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sally sue do you opt out of the facial recognition 'feature'?

    June 8, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      To disable this, Account->Privacy Settings->Customize Settings. Scroll down to "Things other share->Suggest photos of me to friends" Click the Edit Settings button and then select Disable. Click ok, and you should now be good to go. Just got done doing this myself.

      June 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Emily J.

    To opt out:

    Account > Privacy Settings > Customize settings >Things Others Share: Suggest photos of me to friends> Edit Settings> Disable

    June 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NotTellinYou

    I think in preparation everyone should change their profile picture to that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg! Won't that throw their system for a loop when suddenly millions of people have the same facial qualities! Funnier all like Marks!

    June 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Suedehead

    I got off of Facebook over 6 months ago because I was really concerned about the privacy issue. They track everything you do and write on there and I'm convinced they are selling it off to third parties. So that whole business about taking people's phone numbers, it's obvious what they are doing. And now with facial recognition. That's just scary.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Drew

    Section 2.1 of facebook's terms:
    For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos ("IP content"), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook ("IP License"). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

    Facebook is counting on people never reading their terms. Perhaps there will come a day when facebook will sell itself to a company willing to offer full, unlimited access to all of the posted information for a monthly subscription fee of only $9.99. I'm sure that for a monthly subscription fee of only $29.99 you will be able to block your information from being viewed by the lower priced subscribers.

    I went back to MySpace a long time ago. Section 6.1 MySpace terms: Myspace does not claim any ownership rights in the text, files, images, photos, video, sounds, musical works, works of authorship, applications, or any other materials (collectively, "Content") that you transmit, submit, display or publish (“post”) on, through or in connection with the Myspace Services.

    Facebook is nothing more than a receptical for mindless banter that no one reads. MySpace has and always will be much more fun and a better social experience than facebook.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
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