Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings to Enable Facial Recognition

Facebook automatically turned on facial recognition for its users but it can be disabled in the privacy settings on the Web site.
Facebook is pushing the privacy line once again, according to a new report from a security and antivirus company.
According to the report, from Sophos, Facebook recently began changing its users’ privacy settings to automatically turn on a facial recognition feature that detects a user’s face in an image. Once the person’s face is detected, the Web site then encourages Facebook friends to tag them. Facebook introduced this feature last year for its North American users; it is now rolling it out globally.
Facebook also doesn’t give users the option to avoid being tagged in a photo; instead, people who don’t want their name attached to an image must untag themselves after the fact.
In response to a reporter’s inquiry, posted on a Facebook blog, the company said, “We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them.”
The post continued: “We launched Tag Suggestions to help people add tags of their friends in photos; something that’s currently done more than 100 million times a day.  Tag Suggestions are only made to people when they add new photos to the site, and only friends are suggested. If for any reason someone doesn’t want their name to be suggested, they can disable the feature in their Privacy Settings.”
You can change the privacy settings relating to the facial recognition feature, but it is a little confusing. If you want to disable the feature, go your account privacy settings and click “customize settings” at the bottom of the page. Once in this area, scroll down to a list of options called “things others share,” and then click on the button that says “suggest photos of me to friends.” You will then be given the option to disable the facial recognition feature.
Facebook has come under repeated criticism in the past few years for automatically opting users into new product releases without their knowledge or consent. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, has defended this decision in the past, noting that most users would not experience the full effects of Facebook without the new features that are continuously rolled out.
Privacy experts and some Facebook users disagree, saying the company should introduce new products by asking users if they would like to join, rather than automatically signing them up without their knowledge.

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Microsoft, Facebook Back AT&T’s T-Mobile Deal; Google Remains Silent

    * By Sam Gustin

Wireless giant AT&T has friends in high places — and not just on Capitol Hill.
Several major technology companies including Microsoft, Yahoo, Oracle, Facebook and Research In Motion, which makes the BlackBerry line of devices, have thrown their weight behind AT&T’s proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile. So have two of the most powerful venture capital firms in the country: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Partners.
The tech companies and VC firms expressed their support of the deal, which is being scrutinized by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, in letters filed with the FCC late Monday, The New York Times reported.
Their support constitutes a powerful endorsement from some of the heaviest hitters in Silicon Valley, and is no doubt warmly received by AT&T public policy chief Jim Cicconi, who last week characterized support for the merger as, “perhaps the broadest, deepest range of public-interest support ever filed at the FCC in support of any transaction.”
Support for the merger is not unanimous in Silicon Valley, however. In fact, one extremely important Valley company is remaining conspicuously silent on the deal: Google. A spokesperson for the web search titan confirmed Tuesday that the company has not taken a position on the merger, but declined to comment further. Tech giant Apple, which did not return a request for comment, is also staying mum on the deal.
Critics of the merger, most notably Sprint, the number three wireless company, argue that reducing the number of nationwide mobile providers from four to three would concentrate too much market power in the hands of AT&T and Verizon, which would control 80 percent of the market. The companies could use this market power to raise prices for consumers or muscle out smaller competitors, especially regional carriers.
Allowing the merger to proceed, critics say, would result in a return to a “1980’s-style” duopoly that would stifle innovation and competition in the wireless market.

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