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Saturday
Aug312013

Facebook Privacy Policy Change May Analyze Profile Photos 

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook announced on Thursday a new set of proposed privacy policy adjustments that will go into effect sometime in September.

The new changes map out more clearly what Facebook does with your information and how it uses that data to make money -- that is, if you can sift through pages and pages of privacy jargon.

But buried in there is one change that you should be specifically aware of so you can decide if you'd like to change some privacy settings you have control over.

Facebook may start reading your face more. The company may start using facial recognition with your profile photo to better allow your friends to tag your photos. That means Facebook will use software to recognize whether you are in new photos on Facebook by using your profile photo in addition to other photos you have on Facebook.

"We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend's pictures to information we've put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you've been tagged," the new policy reads. Previously, it had just scanned other photos you were tagged in, not your profile photo. The change to the "How We Use the Information We Receive" section was first reported by All Thing D's Mike Isaac.

When reached by ABC News, Facebook declined to comment on when the feature may roll out and on other specifics of the proposed feature. A spokesperson did say that the "Tag Suggest is a tool that helps Facebook users tag their friends in photographs more quickly and easily -- something people love to do on Facebook."

However, security experts say that whether or not this feature is implemented, it means Facebook users must be more vigilant about adjusting their privacy settings, even if they are hard to find.

"The privacy issue here is that you now have terabytes of computing power looking for every instance in which you appear. You are letting a whole new technology identify you in places you might not want to be identified," John Sileo, author of Privacy Means Profit and an identity theft expert, told ABC News. "It is imperative that people go change their tagging settings now."

Facebook currently allows you to turn off the tag suggestions feature, even though it is automatically enabled. To turn this off, go into the settings menu, select the "Timeline and Tagging" option and then navigate to the area that says "Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?" There, you can toggle it from "friends" to "no one."

While you are at it, you might want turn on the setting that requires you to confirm a tag. That means every time someone tags a photo of you, you can decide whether or not you want that tag to be applied.
To do that, head back to that "Timeline and Tagging" option and then navigate to the area that says "review tags people add to your posts before the tags appear on Facebook" and select "enable."

Ultimately, if Facebook does add the profile photo into the facial recognition mix it will just be adding more photos to the collection it already uses to identity you in other photos, but it does bring to light why looking over and understanding privacy settings is so important.

"What they are doing is a logical next step for them, but they are taking advantage of our apathy," Sileo said. "They know they can push the privacy envelope and that likely we won't respond. It is our responsibility to understand and change settings we can control -- we are choosing to put our information on this network."

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ABC News Radio