Facebook is changing how a feature called “tag suggestions,” which used facial recognition to let someone automatically tag friends in photos, works after the Federal Trade Commission said the feature “was deceptive to tens of millions of users.” Facebook recently agreed to a record $5 billion settlement with the FTC over numerous privacy mishaps, and the settlement included a mandate to “obtain affirmative express user consent” before using facial recognition.
In a company blog post, Facebook said that in the future it will notify all users who have opted into facial recognition when someone uploads a photo or video of them. People who have used the “tag suggestions” feature in the past will see a new message to view their facial recognition settings. If they choose not to change their settings, they’ll be opted out of facial recognition altogether. New Facebook users will also be opted out by default.
Facebook has other reasons to change its approach to facial recognition. An ongoing class-action lawsuit in Illinois, a state with strict laws regarding biometric data, alleges that Facebook didn’t ask for explicit user consent to store the biometric data of its users through the “tag suggestions” feature. If Facebook were to lose the lawsuit, it could potentially face billions of dollars in damages.