According to Facebook, 100 million photo tags are added on the site each day. The social networking is largely responsible for the popularity of “tagging” photos, and it has arguably become the most popular way to label and share photos. Now, Facebook will do it for you.
When Facebook introduced its Photos update earlier this year, it allowed you to group people who often appear throughout the same album – called group tagging. Then, you didn’t have to go through and search for and individually tag your friends in that group of photos. Naturally, the next step is to eliminate the hassle of tagging all together, with the help of face recognition technology.
These “tagging suggestions” do the work for you. When you upload photos, Facebook will go through past photos you and yours are tagged in, and based on facial similarities, suggest the name of the new photos’ subjects.
Facebook is quick to assure users that this new feature is well within privacy rights, and suggests that if you want, you can disable your own photo from being automatically tagged (friends can still do it manually, though). TechCrunch reports that Facebook VP Product Chris Cox says that because the tagging tool can only use your individual social graph (which is relatively small), it couldn’t be used for any type of site-wide tracking. Facebook did work with unnamed outside sources on the technology, but is also responsible for some of the development itself.
The new service will slowly show up on US Facebook accounts next week. It’s possibly the most significant upgrade a core feature of Facebook has undergone, and will undeniably make tagging easier. One that is very likely to invite plenty of user concern over privacy and identity security.