If you have even the remotest of interest in the world of social media, you’ll have likely read some scary headlines about how Facebook is now using facial recognition to, well, ruin your life. Every article I’ve seen so far is literally just a copy and paste of the previous one, all telling us how to quickly turn off the feature before it can do too much harm.
Remember, scary headlines get shared, so it’s in the best interests of journalists to create fear.
Facebook using Facebook facial recognition is nothing new. The social platform has been actively using the tech since 2010 in an attempt to make tagging photos easier, by suggesting the names of people in your images. You’ve always had the option to turn this feature off, although it perhaps was a little complicated.
What is new, is the roll out of more features, which has spurned so many to suddenly freak out over what they perceive to be a step too far.
Don’t turn off the Facebook facial recognition feature.
Before you start searching for a link on how to turn it off (here’s one incase you want it), let’s for a second remember just what Facebook already knows about you. Actually, let me sum it up with one word. Everything.
Just by having one of Facebook’s apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram to name but a few) installed on your device you’ve given them the power to start building a pretty concise data record about you. If you go on to actually use them, it doesn’t matter how you set your privacy settings, the network learns about you every single second. It knows who you are, where you’ve been, and can even predict where you’re going and what you’re likely to do.
When you say this out loud, it starts to alarm people, however it’s exactly this kind of data that will help provide the services and functionality we will all find useful. Facebook needs to serve ads to stay a free consumer service, so isn’t it better that the ads you see might actually be of interest to you? How cool would it be if the network saw you in your usual coffee place, knew your average time to consume your drink and pre-booked you an Uber to your next appointment – that it obviously already knew about – oh, and connected you with the person you just met.
So, the network already knows you better than your mum, and this is my argument for NOT turning off facial recognition. If you truly have an issue with the amount of data Facebook might collect about you, the answer is simple. Stop using Facebook.
I believe there’s a real benefit to leaving the facial recognition feature turned on.
If you’re like me, you probably have tag review turned on, (and if you don’t, you really need to), because lets face it, no one wants to wake up to being tagged in a terrible photo after it’s hit the timelines of all your best clients. At least with tag reviewing on, you get to decide what appears in your stream, alongside your personal brand.
But what about the bad photos that you’re in, but not tagged in? They could be still hitting the streams of the people you know, without you knowing about it.
Worse still, there’s a lot of fake accounts on Facebook, and a lot that will happily steal your images and pass them off as being your account. Those people aren’t exactly going to tag you in your stolen images, so how would you ever know it happens, assuming none of your contacts spot them?
This is one of the big reasons you should have the facial recognition feature enabled. The network will identify photos that you appear in, irrespective of where or how they are posted. If it spots your likeness in something, it will let you know.
Think of it as free image protection. It may even help grow your network. Say you appear in a photo where you know some of the people in it, but not the others, or the person taking the photo. Chances are, you’re not getting tagged as the photographer doesn’t know you. With facial recognition turned on, you’ll be alerted and might find new connections. It might even be a great photo that you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
Sure, facial recognition adds to the data Facebook is collecting about you, but they’re not the only ones, and at least you can opt out. If you want to really freak out, check out Amscreen Optimeyes, a digital signage solution in the UK that profiles you based on facial recognition. I’ve actually stopped filling up at my local Tesco store because they have these on the counter.
So in my opinion, leave it turned on for Facebook. The benefits, for me, outweigh the negatives. At least until we find out they’re building a small super-army of replica human beings.