Facebook has been giving users a scare as people have started noticing a notification in its mobile app, declaring it was introducing face recognition for more features.
The new developments are designed to give users more control over a few Facebook experiences. With the new feature enabled, you'll be notified if you appear in other users' photos, even if you're not tagged. Once notified, you can decide whether you want to tag yourself or ignore the photo.
Facebook also hopes the new feature will make the platform more accessible for blind and visually impaired users.
Still, if it makes you uncomfortable, there's an easy way to turn it off.
Though many users are reporting just now receiving the notification, Facebook actually revealed the ability to toggle on and off facial recognition back in 2017. At the time, the company announced the feature in a December blog post, and began a staggered roll out of the facial recognition settings notice.
"Powered by the same technology we’ve used to suggest friends you may want to tag in photos or videos, these new features help you find photos that you’re not tagged in and help you detect when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture," wrote Joaquin Quiñonero Candela, Facebook's director of applied machine learning.
"We designed this as an on/off switch because people gave us feedback that they prefer a simpler control than having to decide for every single feature using face recognition technology."
The in-app announcement was met with a great deal of of skepticism. Fast Company pointed out that Facebook's announcement coincided with legal setbacks. According to Bloomberg, a federal judge recently ruled that the social network "must face claims that it violated the privacy of millions of users by gathering and storing biometric data without their consent."
And others on Twitter were quick to point out that Facebook's announcement may have motives that aren't purely altruistic.
For anybody who doesn't want to to use the new features, we have good news: it's pretty easy to opt out of Facebook's face recognition. If you want to turn off the feature, here's how.
To disable face recognition on mobile:
Step 1: Go to your profile and click 'More,' on the right, under your profile photo
Step 2: Click 'View Privacy Shortcuts'
Step 3: Click 'More Settings'
Step 4: Click 'Face Recognition'
Step 5: Facebook will offer a quick explainer about why they use face recognition. Click on the question under that, 'Do you want Facebook to be able to recognize you in photos and videos?'
If you're on desktop the process is similar, but slightly different.
And that's it. It's pretty straight forward. The setting can be turned on and off at anytime, so if you decide that you'd like to turn face recognition back on at a later time, you can.