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Facebook under fire for privacy concerns, once again

by Kelly MacNeil on June 9, 2011

Ever since it became open to anyone with a valid email address in 2006, Facebook has faced its fair share of privacy demons. This typically happens when the social networking site decides to try out a new feature – for example, the Newsfeed option, which displays the most recent updates by a person's friends, was first viewed as controversial but slowly became integral to the site.

So it's natural to wonder if this is the case with Facebook's most recent innovation – auto-tagging. Basically, this new option comes into play when users upload photos. Immediately, the software detects the faces within each photo and tries to label them with the person's name. The real issue emerged when Facebook decided to make this the default setting when creating a photo album.

Not only that, if friends are putting up pictures, the program encourages the friend to tag any likeness of another user, even if he or she has no desire to be tagged in it or associated with the photo.

Privacy watchdogs from every corner of the blogosphere were up in arms over the technology.

"Facebook is eroding the online privacy of its users by stealth," Graham Cluley wrote on security blog NakedSecurity. "Most Facebook users still don't know how to set their privacy options. … It's even harder though to keep control when Facebook changes the settings without your knowledge."

However, others point out that "face-tagging" has been a feature of Facebook for months, and only recently come the center of attention. People can still opt out of the system if they change their privacy settings and users are still the final judge of who and who doesn't get tagged.  

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