Sen. Al Franken Grills Facebook About Facial Recognition

By Justin Lafferty 

Not everyone was excited when Facebook acquired facial recognition software company Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the radio host-turned-politician, called a hearing Wednesday to discuss issues regarding facial recognition. In particular, he didn’t care for Facebook’s opt-in by default setting and what it means for privacy.

As with most features within Facebook, users are automatically enrolled in facial recognition and can opt out manually. Franken didn’t care for that, and he let Facebook Privacy and Policy Manager Rob Sherman know:

I think this information is so sensitive that it’s the kind of thing users have to consciously opt themselves into … How can users make an informed decision about facial recognition in their privacy settings if you don’t actually tell them that you are using facial recognition?

Sherman defended the social network, telling Franken that Facebook has always been an automatic opt-in experience:

People choose to be on Facebook because they want to share with each other. We think that it’s the right choice to let people who are uncomfortable with it to decide to opt out.

Franken also asked Sherman if Facebook would ever sell its user face profiles or the recognition software to third parties. Sherman said he couldn’t give a definitive answer because he doesn’t know how Facebook will evolve in the years to come.

Readers: What are your thoughts regarding facial recognition? Do you side more with Franken or Sherman?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.