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Time For Facebook Users To Revisit Their Privacy Settings

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Picture this. You’re a cheating spouse who’s conducting a discrete affair. You’re always careful to only appear together in out-of-the-way public places where you’re guaranteed anonymity. Then, while dining at a secluded restaurant, the group of perfect strangers sitting at the next table snaps a picture with you and your lover unwittingly in the frame. That picture is posted on Facebook, which has taken the liberty to automatically tag the two of you in it...for possibly the world to see.

To be fair, that’s actually not the exact scenario facing the social networking site’s 500 million users who have been automatically added to a database that, in a few weeks, will spit out their name when a new photo of them is posted online. At least not yet. Right now, the facial recognition technology used in Facebook’s new "Tag Suggestions" feature labels only the users already part of the poster’s network.

Instead, the issues raising eyebrows and anxiety levels over the feature are that Facebook not only enabled it without giving users notice (rather than allowing them to opt-in) but that it raises serious privacy concerns such as email addresses now becoming linked to photos on Facebook. The "Tag Suggestions" feature, however, can be disabled in users’ privacy settings.

While it’s true that Google and Apple have already been using facial recognition with services like Picasa and iPhoto, respectively, implementing the technology within a worldwide social network platform is a completely different animal.

This technology really begs several questions. Why is face-scanning of your own friends and acquaintances even necessary? Is it a safeguard against memory loss? How much convenience does it really afford? Isn’t the concept just a bit creepy?

And, given recent events, isn’t genital recognition technology a far more pressing need?
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