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Facebook is starting to tell more users about facial recognition

Facebook is starting to tell more users about facial recognition

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook users have been noticing a strange new notification in their News Feeds, letting them know about the platform’s increasingly comprehensive facial recognition features. Users with further questions are directed to a privacy page with more information and more detailed instructions for opting out of the system.

Four different Verge staffers saw the notification in the past 24 hours, including one currently visiting Barcelona for Mobile World Congress.

Facebook has used some form of facial recognition for years, particularly to suggest friends’ names when tagging photos. Company representatives say the latest notification refers to a feature that was announced in December, which searches for your face in photos you’re not tagged in. The feature has been slowly rolling out since December, and the opt-out page appears to have rolled out at the same time. The feature won’t roll out to Facebook users in Canada or the European Union because of stricter regulations on the collection of facial data in those regions.

The new wave of notifications comes less than 24 hours after a significant court ruling against Facebook. On February 26th, a California federal court ruled that the company is bound by Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, which requires notice and consent before biometric information can be collected from an Illinois resident. According to a Facebook representative, however, smaller groups of users have been seeing the notifications since December, and the latest push is not related to the ruling.