Today is a Good Day for those of y’all who like your privacy on the internet (so, everyone?). Facebook recently announced they will be making facial recognition an opt-in feature, instead of a default setting. This means that when you upload a new album or photo, Facebook won’t automatically tag you and your friends like it has done since December 2017. For existing users of Facebook, news-feed notifications should be popping up this week to educate you on how exactly the new opt-in feature works — and if you do nothing, it should switch off anyway. For new users, the facial-recognition feature should be off when you sign up, only turning on if you go into Settings and opt in.
Up until this point, Facebook collected your facial data (aka, they knew what you and your friends and your grandma look like) and used it to “elevate” your social media experience. In practice, it may have made the process of tagging all your friends in an album easier, but it mostly creeped users out — perhaps because Facebook has not always been transparent about how it utilizes user data.
This decision to crack down when it comes to issues of user privacy follows a trend in big tech to protect user data. Most recently, Apple introduced a feature that disallows apps to collect data from users when the app is not active. This is a win for smartphone and social media users everywhere, and it isn’t surprising following a recent class-action lawsuit filed against Facebook.
Whether you decide to opt in to facial recognition or not, remember that big tech companies still have access to your data, as they still have to process your information and photos — they just won’t memorize your face without permission anymore.