By Niall Firth
Facebook has launched a new service that will automatically identify faces in photographs that are uploaded to the site.
The facial recognition software will then suggest the names of people in the photos so that the user can decide whether they will tag that person in the picture or not.
The move has alarmed some commentators who fear that the same technology could be used by police to identify people from photos.
Facebook engineer Justin Mitchell said the new tag-suggestions feature will match new photos to others that people have already been tagged in.
Facebook says that only friends will be able to tag one another and that only people who are your friends will be suggested as tag options.
Similar photos will be grouped and the software will let users know who it thinks is in the shots.
Users who do not want their name suggested can use the site’s privacy settings to turn the feature off.
Facebook already offers a way to tag one person in a group of photos, and it hopes this will add more simplicity to the process.
The tag suggestions will be rolled out in the U.S. from 22nd December. More than 100 million tags are linked to photos on Facebook every day.
Tagging is actually really important for control, because every time a tag is created it means that there was a photo of you on the internet that you didn’t know about,’ Facebook Vice President of Product Chris Cox told CNET.
In a blog post explaining the change last night Facebook said the new software will make tagging much easier.