The Pandora's Box Facebook opened on the privacy issue just keeps spewing forth. This time around they've started changing privacy settings to automatically recognize a user's face in an image ready to be tagged. All without their consent.
The feature is called Tag Suggestions, and Facebook started rolling out the service late last year. It essentially maps your face and detects whether or not it matches us with images amongst your friends' albums. It then nudges them into tagging those pictures accordingly. This would be great for the average beach trip where tagging the same people over and over would be a bother, but it becomes problematic when a well-meaning friend or mistress tags you in something incriminating.
Now Facebook isn't letting users opt out of the feature beforehand, arguing that people would miss out on the functionality if they did. Although you can change your privacy settings back, this move doesn't differ too much from previous decisions they've made that put them in hot water time and time again.
The good news is that it's easy to stop Facebook from from using its facial recognition voodoo on you; Lifehacker's got a complete guide for you here. And the Times notes that the company has admitted some fault, a response on the official Facebook blog saying, "We should have been more clear with people during the roll-out process when this became available to them." But that doesn't change the fact that this misstep is part of a pattern of "change settings and ask questions later" that needs to be fixed.