Facebook to Use Facial Recognition to Provide Photo Tag Suggestions

Facebook has announced a new photo tag suggestions feature that utilizes facial recognition technology. When users upload photos, faces which match ones tagged in their existing photos will show a suggestion of who to tag. Similar photos are grouped for easy tagging. Users can opt out of being identified by the facial recognition software in their privacy settings.

The update, rolled out in the U.S. over the next few weeks, could lead users to be tagged in photos much more frequently. It also brings Facebook up to speed with other photo editing tools including iPhoto, which can already create Facebook tags through facial recognition.

Facebook has long been the most popular photo sharing service in the world, and it is this core app which drives time on-site and growth. Facebook began highlighting faces to assist tagging in July, while third-party apps sought to help users find untagged photos of themselves through facial recognition software. The Photos product received a major upgrade in September, with the additions of high resolution photo uploads, an in-line light box viewing mode, and bulk tagging.

When users upload photos, they are brought to a Tag Your Friends page. Here, users see a dialogue which explains that their photos have been grouped and names of friends have been suggested. Grouping photos which look similar and therefore likely contain the same friends makes it easier to tag multiple photos.

Photo tag suggestions appear in a blue box beneath the recognized photo. It appears that users must opt out of suggested tags, which allows for quick saving of tags if a user thinks they are accurate.

Users who receive the new feature will also see a new “Suggest photos of me to friends” privacy setting within the “Customize settings” link. When disabled, users won’t appear in suggestions, which will lower the chances of them being tagged.

Facebook explains that the update means “you’re more likely to know right away when friends post photos.” Really, this will reduce the likelihood that a user could be identified in a photo of them which they never knew about since they weren’t tagged and notified. Most importantly, photo tag suggestions may significantly increase the number of photos users get tagged in, increasing interconnections, and further cementing Facebook as the keeper of our memories.

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