You Can Turn Off Your Facebook Facial Recognition, But Should You?

Facebook users can now opt-out of facial recognition technology on the platform.

This announcement surprised a lot of people. Not only is Facebook allowing users to turn off Facial Recognition, but most people didn’t know you could opt out of part of it since December of 2017, though it was only used to control tagging you in photos.

“Facebook has always given you control over whether we use face recognition technology to recognize you in photos. This setting was previously called tag suggestions because Facebook only used face recognition technology to automatically suggest tags of your friends in photos. Our face recognition setting lets you manage not only whether Facebook uses face recognition technology on photos of you in order to suggest tags; it provides an easy on or off switch for a broader set of uses of face recognition, such as helping you protect your identity on Facebook.

Starting today, people who newly join Facebook or who previously had the tag suggestions setting will have the face recognition setting and will receive information about how it works. The tag suggestions setting, which only controls whether we can suggest that your friends tag you in photos or videos using face recognition will no longer be available.”
- By Srinivas Narayanan, Applied Research Lead, Facebook AI

Example of Notification for Facebook Recognition Settings

Facebook has updated and rebranded the setting users use to opt-out of face recognition features. The ones specifically that have raised a lot of privacy concerns recently.

By turning off facial recognition in the settings, Facebook won’t auto-suggest tagging you in images. If you opt-out, Facebook will not search for you in other images on Facebook using its photo review system. That system notifies you if another user ads a photo of you and didn’t tag you in it.

According to the company’s website, Facebook turns your facial features and distance apart into a series of mathematical formulas. Facial recognition is just comparing how statistically similar your string of numbers is to other strings of numbers extracted from other images.

Facebook Facial Recognition Opt-Out setting
Facebook Facial Recognition now has an Opt-Out setting.

The downside of this is that Facebook deletes your template, it can no longer use that template of your data to discover fake profiles or photos and video uploaded that you are in. That means Facebook will no longer be able to take action or inform you if something like that happens.

The plus side is, Facebook has confirmed that people who opt-out will no longer be used in Facebook’s A.I. testing and research.

“When people turn off their face recognition setting, we can no longer create a face template for them for any purpose.”

(source: Facebook spoke to OneZero)

Opting out also prohibits you from being included in Facebook’s facial recognition research, according to a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook users will now have a way to be removed from Facebook’s facial recognition database and from their artificial intelligence testing and research.

What you need to decide is if the security it could give you is worth the privacy you lose. And honestly, there’s nothing that would stop Facebook from turning it back on without you knowing it, storing the data, and turning it back off.

How would anyone ever know?

They wouldn’t.

I don’t want to scare anyone and I use Facebook as an ad platform every day. I just wish there was a little more transparency and oversight of a company holding and doing research with the private data of half the people on the planet.

Now go forth and be profitable!

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About the Author

Matt Rouse is one of the hosts of the Digital Marketing Masters Podcast and is a managing partner of Hook SEO Digital Marketing. He is the author of Start Saying Yes: Improving Customer Experience and Sales Through Positive Messaging and Flattening the Hamster Wheel: Stop Grinding and Start Making an Impact.



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Matt Rouse

Matt Rouse

Host of the Digital Marketing Masters Podcast. Author of Start Saying Yes. Marketing strategy nerd. I write a lot and sometimes I help run my Marketing Agency.