Thursday, June 23, 2011

Facebook - New Facial Recognition Feature Raises Significant Trust Concerns

Facebook, Privacy and You

Facebook recently announced plans to roll out a new facial-recognition feature across its entire social network of more than 500 million worldwide users. This feature will allow users to identify their friends automatically in photos without their permission.

This move clearly has an impact on the privacy profession and workplace by creating new challenges and raising significant concerns about trust.

In the workplace, social networking is very complicated, as the intersection of personal and working lives creates real challenges for these practitioners. Facial recognition only opens more avenues to create identity issues, as a person tagged to a photo may not be the right individual.

Also, privacy in the workplace is largely driven by information controlled outside the organization, so the other concern is the identity and photo database of 500 million users that Facebook has. Who will have access to this critical information? How will the data be protected? What privacy standards and laws will be applicable to ensure effective database security measures are practiced?

Facebook has clearly not created this database to just please the users, and that bothers me being in the privacy profession. There is a trend in what Facebook is doing. They keep invading people's privacy. It's OK to make mistakes occasionally, but what Facebook is doing is not making mistakes, but breaching trust.

In this case, Facebook is changing the privacy settings of individuals without letting them know. People are on Facebook because they want to communicate with their friends and community, but they may have been careful not to put their pictures online. Now if they are at a party and someone takes their picture and tags them, that picture will go in the Facebook database with the person's name and identity.

The question of trust in the case of facial recognition will have a much broader impact on the profession. The level of trust and reliance that can be placed on the company, its application and its usage will ultimately define our future.

Also, such concerns for data privacy and protection and more are resulting in enforcement of new privacy standards globally.

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