Facebook releases a new feature without telling users. Europe goes mad. Some users quit Facebook altogether. European Union data-protection regulators swoop in to investigate. Next we’ll be seeing ‘Facebook ate my hamster’ headlines.
I think everyone needs to calm down and stop for a moment before someone busts a blood vessel – it’s not as bad as the press is making out. The process of tagging friends in uploaded photos has been there for a long time and I know a number of people who use it and love it. What face recognition does is make this process easier for the user – it gives you suggestions of your friends in that photo so you can tag them. Surely that is a good thing, no?! If you’re worried about that then I’d recommend you have a cull of your ‘friends’ on Facebook as I think that’s your real issue.
Where I think the issue lies is with Facebook not being transparent with releasing the feature. Essentially it’s a change of a users privacy settings and as such requires notification. The feature was announced to US users before it’s release but the EU seems to have been left in the dark to any switching on of the feature. What Facebook should have done is set the default to off and then let users opt in to the feature.
Part of me can’t help but think this is the press jumping on the social media bandwagon as more legal claims and investigations are made into the role of social media, the recent Twittergate being a prime example. On this occasion though I hope Facebook’s listened to its users and will be a but more careful in the future.