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Some Facebook users can’t turn off face recognition, study suggests (updated)

Some Facebook users can’t turn off face recognition, study suggests (updated)
[Photo: eberhard grossgasteiger/Unsplash]

Updated 5/20 7:30 p.m. PST with Facebook comment.

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A small, qualitative Consumer Reports study suggests that many Facebook users may lack the ability to prevent the social networking company from using facial recognition technology to identify their faces on the platform.

Consumer Reports filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission after finding that 8 of 31 test accounts lacked the ability to turn off facial recognition. The publication points out that it does not know how many Facebook users are likely to lack the control.

CR also created a group of new Facebook accounts to see which of them offered the facial recognition opt-out. It found “about a half-dozen” of the accounts lacked the feature.

Facebook disputes the CR findings. “Consumer Reports is incorrect in its claim that some people aren’t given the option of controlling their face recognition setting,” the company says in an email response to Fast Company.

The social network began using facial recognition back in 2010 to help people tag their friends in photos and videos. The company also provided a way for users to prevent their faces being ID’d and tagged using a Tag Suggestions setting. In December 2017, Facebook introduced an easier way to totally opt out.

“Everyone on Facebook can turn face recognition on or off, either through the stand-alone face recognition setting or through the Tag Suggestions setting,” Facebook says in the email. “We are, however, moving toward a single control.”

The FTC is currently working out the amount of a fine against Facebook for violating a 2012 pledge to be transparent with consumers about the data it collects. The fine could be as much as $5 billion.

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