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Facebook wants to use your profile pic to find you in other photos

August 29, 2013|By Jessica Guynn
  • Facebook now plans to use your profile pic to recognize you.
Facebook now plans to use your profile pic to recognize you. (Dan Kitwood / Getty Images )

SAN FRANCISCO -- Don’t look now but Facebook is proposing a bunch of changes to its privacy policy and its user rights policy.

The company says it’s just making things clearer for its more than 1 billion users – and it’s adding language to comply with the settlement of a class-action lawsuit over Facebook advertising. (A U.S. judge on Monday gave final approval to Facebook's $20-million settlement of a lawsuit over "Sponsored Stories.")

The company is alerting users by email and giving them seven days to pore over the fine print and provide feedback (although users can no longer vote on the changes).

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There isn’t much that is terribly significant –- with one exception.

Facebook plans to start using your profile photo as part of its photo feature that suggests that people “tag” you in photos.

Facebook uses facial recognition software to suggest these tags when photos are uploaded to the service. (But it can't do that in Europe because of a privacy brouhaha there. Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan said Facebook is working on a way to let European users opt in to the tagging feature).

Now it wants to also use your profile photo to recognize you. (Egan says Facebook is well aware that people often use photos of animals, kids, celebrities and so forth in their profile pictures and that Facebook will not mistake you for a twerking Miley Cyrus or a cuddly kitten).

“Now we are making it clear that moving forward we also want to use your profile photos as an additional input into the technology to better recognize you,” Egan said.

That, she said, is something that helps Facebook users. (Just in case you get tagged in a compromising or humiliating photo, for example).

“The benefit in being tagged is that you know photos exist,” Egan said.

And, she points out, you still have the option to turn off the feature on your settings page.

The rest of the changes underscore just how much of your personal information Facebook hoards, and the ongoing tension between users' privacy concerns and Facebook's drive to make money.


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