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Facebook replaces setting that only suggested friends to tag in photos

Users will have access to a broader setting for facial recognition.

Facebook is updating settings involving facial recognition on the social network. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook said Tuesday it's scrapping a setting that solely let you control whether the social network uses facial recognition to automatically suggest that your friends identify you in photos.

That controversial feature, called tag suggestions, has been at the center of an ongoing 2015 lawsuit that alleges Facebook violated an Illinois biometric privacy law. When someone "tags" you in a photo, it creates a link to your Facebook profile. This feature was turned on by default unless you chose to opt out of it. 

Now the company is replacing tag suggestions with a broader tool for controlling how the company uses facial recognition to identify you in photos. That setting, called facial recognition, includes other features such as whether you're in photos in which you're not tagged or if someone used your face in their profile picture. Facebook introduced the facial recognition setting in 2011 for some of its users.

Users who had the tag suggestions feature or just joined the social network will see a notice on their News Feed about the facial recognition setting, which they can turn on or off. If you don't have the facial recognition setting, Facebook said that it won't automatically suggest that your friends tag you in photos. 

"People will still be able to manually tag friends, but we won't suggest you to be tagged if you do not have face recognition turned on," said Srinivas Narayanan, who leads applied research for Facebook AI, in a blog post. "If you already have the face recognition setting, you won't receive a notice."

This setting is only available to users who are at least 18 years old. Facebook, which was hit with a record $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission in July for its alleged privacy mishaps, has been accused of using "deceptive disclosures and settings" to undermine user privacy.