June 14, 2011, 1:24 PM — It seems everyone’s getting their knickers in a knot over Facebook’s facial recognition features. The Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a formal complaint with the FTC, asking them to investigate.
As I noted last week – and Forbes’ blogger Kashmir Hill concurs with me on this – Facebook’s facial recognition isn’t the privacy boogeyman people want to make it out to be. The real monster under the bed is Facebook tags. Today I thought I’d explain why.
[ See also: Facing facts: Facebook’s facial recognition ]
It’s one thing to post a picture or a video to Facebook of yourself doing something stupid. If you get in trouble it’s your own damned fault. But it’s quite another thing if someone else posts a picture of you doing something stupid, and then tags that image with a link to your profile so all of their friends know it’s you.
I, too, do not understand how Facebook works, even though I'm a computer programmer, web developer, etc. All of us are struggling to figure out from meager information what's going on under the hood. Nobody is asking Facebook to hand over their internal system design specs, but the public should be given at least a proper abstract of how information is shared and controlled.
What’s the harm of a few tags between friends?
Let’s say you decide to blow off work for a few days and go to Cabo with your college pals. So you call in sick (cough, cough) and jet on down to sunny Mexico, where you have a wild and quasi-illegal time with your old buds. The whole time you’re sucking down tequila shooters, somebody’s snapping pics with their cell phone and uploading them to Facebook. Then he or she gets the bright idea of putting that little square over your face and tagging your photo with a link to your profile.
You come home, hungover as hell, and sleep for two days straight.