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Facebook privacy in US Senate crosshairs

Senators in the US have been grilling Facebook’s privacy and policy manager Rob Sherman, over the company’s facial recognition technology. While they saw little wrong with the traditional manual photo tagging tools made available to users, the Senate was keen to learn more about Facebook’s tag suggestions: how they work and whether they’re necessary for users.

Sherman said that due to Facebook’s nature as an opt-in sort of service – people joining the social network is enough of indication that they want to be social – tools like auto tagging were in effect automatically. However, he did say that users could opt-out of them if they choose.

Senator Franken then pointed out that this wasn’t the way Google handled it. All tagging features on Google + were off by default, because of the sensitivity of that sort of information.

Facebook Tagging
It might be hard to find on Facebook.com, but Google Facebook Tagging and here it is

Of course the main concerns with this type of tool boil down to two things, 1: whether people know enough about it and 2: if Facebook ever plans to sell that information. The Senate ultimately believes that because details on auto tagging are buried within several menus that is far from being obvious.

In response to the second point Sherman dodged around a definitive answer, saying that it was difficult to say what Facebook would be like within the next few years and therefore he couldn’t comment.

KitGuru Says: We know you guys aren’t fans of Timeline, but what about facial tagging? Have you opted out?

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