FTC to scrutinize new Facebook facial recognition feature

Wed Sep 11, 2013 10:07pm EDT

Men are silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Nokia Lumia 820 and Samsung Galaxy S4 in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Men are silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Nokia Lumia 820 and Samsung Galaxy S4 in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, August 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

(Reuters) - U.S. officials will examine changes to Facebook Inc's privacy policy to determine whether they violate a 2011 agreement with federal regulators, a Federal Trade Commission spokesman confirmed Wednesday after certain changes drew fire from privacy advocates.

Much of the criticism has focused on a proposed "Tag Suggest" feature that would use facial recognition technology to match faces in photos with public profile features, part of a broad set of privacy changes the social networking giant announced on August 29.

FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said regulators would study the changes as part of the government's oversight of Facebook's privacy practices, which began in 2011 after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized for privacy missteps and pledged to obtain users' permission before sharing their personal data.

"As in all cases, we're monitoring compliance with the order and part of that involves interacting with Facebook," Kaplan said Wednesday.

He added that the commission had no reason to believe that the company had violated its 2011 agreement.

Facebook posted an update to its data use policies on the company website on August 29 to explain how users' personal information is used by advertisers and third-party applications. (r.reuters.com/myq92v)

The new policy proposal came days after the company finalized a $20 million class-action settlement related to how Facebook displayed its users' "likes" and pictures in its ads products.

Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday that it was in full compliance with the FTC and that its new policy did not grant the company expanded privileges in how it used personal data.

(Reporting by Aurindom Mukherjee and Gerry Shih in San Francisco; Editing by Stephen Coates)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
minutemanII wrote:
I think a lot of us are comfortable with keeping our faces OFF Facebook except for our closest friends, and don’t appreciate using facial recognition technology to match our faces with photos. I don’t particularly wish to have my face posted online for the world to see. My friends and family KNOW what I look like…strangers don’t need to. FB’s proposal goes against any notion of “privacy”. Bye, bye, FB.

Sep 12, 2013 4:53am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jim6555 wrote:
I agree with minutemanII. So long Facebook.

Sep 12, 2013 3:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

A tourist takes a plunge as she swims at Ngapali Beach, a popular tourist site, in the Thandwe township of the Rakhine state, October 6, 2013. Picture taken October 6, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun (MYANMAR - Tags: SOCIETY) - RTR3FOI0

Where do you want to go?

We look at when to take trips, budget considerations and the popularity of multigenerational family travel.   Video