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Facebook starts trialling controversial facial tagging feature in Europe

THE SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook has started trialling controversial facial recognition technology in Europe, six years after the tech was banned following objections from EU regulators. 

The new facial recognition features, which Facebook first announced back in December, will allow users to find photos they haven’t been tagged in and to get alerts when a stranger uses their photo as their profile picture, a la Catfish

The biometric functionality, which will also look to help those with visual impairments by describing photographs.

As per a report at the Metro, users across Europe – including a journalist at the newspaper – has been told that the controversial facial-tagging feature will soon be added their account.

A notification from Facebook says: “We’re always working to make Facebook better, so we’re adding more ways to use face recognition besides just suggesting tags.

“You control face recognition. This setting is on, but you can turn it off at any time, which applies to features we may add later.”

There’s no word as to when the functionality will be rolled out to all European users, but Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer Rob Sherman confirmed to the Irish Times last week a wider rollout is on the cards. 

“It’s been offered for quite some time in other parts of the world,” he told the Irish Times. “It’s had a positive response. We believe these features are very valuable.”

Back in 2012, Facebook was forced to discontinued use of its face recognition tagging tool after the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) said that that said the feature failed to fall in line with EU data privacy laws.

At the time, Facebook said it intends to turn the feature back on within the EU “once we have come to a best practice agreement with our regulators on how to notify and educate people using the tool.” µ



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