Facebook Insists It Can Use Your Pictures in Ads

Dennis Faas's picture

Facebook is planning to use profile pictures to automatically recognize users when they appear in photos taken by somebody else. The firm has also made it clear to users that it has every right to use members' pictures in its own advertisements without compensating them in any way.

The proposed changes are detailed in a Facebook post that, following a court order, more clearly explains how the site uses data from its users.

Facebook already uses facial recognition software but in a more limited manner. Once you have been "tagged" in a photograph (that is, somebody has labeled you as being one of the people in it), Facebook makes a note of your facial details, such as the distance between your main features.

It then uses these details the next time you or a friend uploads a picture. If it spots what it thinks is you, it automatically suggests tagging you. The person who uploaded the picture must then confirm the tag before it goes live.

Profile Pictures Used For Facial Recognition

Facebook will now use your profile picture as one of its main comparison points in identifying you in a picture and suggesting a tag.

The theory is that this will make for more accurate identification, though it may be confused by people who, for example, have a picture of their child as a profile picture.

The facial recognition will continue to be switched on by default for all users, though you can opt out through Facebook's user settings. (Source: telegraph.co.uk)

Details of the change come in a post that also sets out more comprehensive details of the site's policies.

That post is the result of a court case in which California Facebook users sued the social networking site after their names and pictures were used in advertisements on the site (known as "sponsored stories") without their knowledge or permission.

Facebook Makes Clear: We Can Use You In Ads

Thanks to the case, Facebook has rewritten its terms to make its policies clearer. It now says this to its members:

"You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you." (Source: facebook.com)

Unlike the facial recognition rules, this isn't a substantive change of policy: instead, Facebook is more clearly expressing existing rules.

Both sets of changes to the policy have been published for users to review and comment upon. However, users do not have the option to vote on the policy.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet