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Facebook can now recognize and tag your face – whoever and wherever you are

Facial recognition
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Facebook is rolling out facial recognition to all of its 360 million users, making it easier than ever for your friends and family to tag you in embarrassing photos.

Facial recognition first arrived on Facebook in 2017 under the name 'Tag Suggestions', but was only available to a small sample of users. It's now accessible worldwide under the more logical name 'Face Recognition'.

Face Recognition will be turned off by default, and if you weren't part of the Tag Suggestions trial group, you'll see a notification in your News Feed asking if you want to activate it. 

New users signing up for Facebook will also receive a News Feed notification letting them know about Face Recognition.

If you were part of the Tag Suggestions group, however, you won't get the News Feed alert. To check your facial recognition settings, take a look in your privacy options and see whether the new Face Recognition switch is toggled on.

About face

Facebook's decision to make facial recognition global is a bold one, due to the bad press the technology has received in recent weeks.

San Francisco banned police forces from using facial recognition in May, and a London housing developer was prompted to switch off facial recognition at a site in King's Cross after public backlash. There's also increasing concern about the use of facial recognition at airports, which critics worry will normalize the technology and socialize people to accept it.

Facebook has published a blog post that aims to allay any fears about its own use of facial recognition. "We’ve continued to engage with privacy experts, academics, regulators and people on Facebook about how we use face recognition and the options you have to control it," the company said.

"We’ve made the steps to update your settings clearer and you can opt to leave your setting off right in the notice, as opposed to having to go to a separate screen. If you do nothing, face recognition will remain off for you."

Whether you're happy with facial recognition or not, this is a good time to take a look through the rest of your privacy settings on Facebook and make sure they're all up to date – particularly if you haven't checked them since last year, when the company embarked on a major overhaul to make them more transparent.