This article was published on February 1, 2013

Facebook re-enables Tag Suggestions facial-recognition feature in the US, on by default for all

Facebook re-enables Tag Suggestions facial-recognition feature in the US, on by default for all

Facebook has announced it has brought back its photo Tag Suggestions feature to the US after temporarily suspending it last year to make some technical improvements. Facebook says it has re-enabled it so that its users can use facial recognition “to help them easily identify a friend in a photo and share that content with them.”

Facebook first rolled out the facial recognition feature across the US in late 2010. The company eventually pushed photo Tag Suggestions to other countries in June 2011, but in the US there was quite a backlash.

Yet Facebook doesn’t appear to have made any privacy changes to the feature: it’s still on by default. In fact, the company admits nothing has changed: “This is the same feature that millions of people previously used to help them quickly share billions of photos with friends and family.”


When you upload new photos, Facebook uses software similar to that found in many image editing tools to match your new photos to other ones you’re tagged in. Similar photos are grouped together and, whenever possible, Facebook suggests the name(s) of your friend(s) in the photos. In other words, the square that magically finds faces in a photo now suggests names of your Facebook friends to streamline the tagging process, especially with the same friends in multiple uploaded photos.

If this sounds scary to you, don’t worry there is a way to turn it off. While Facebook has technically let users know about the change in a Facebook and Privacy post, we’re pretty sure most US users have not seen it, given its low Like, Share, and comment count.


To opt out of this feature, follow these steps:

  • Click the wrench icon at the top right of Facebook, select Account Settings, and then click on click Timeline and Tagging, or just click here if you’re already logged in.
  • At the bottom, locate the setting that says “Who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded?” and click Edit on the far right.
  • Select your preference from the dropdown menu: Friends or No One.

If at step three you do not see an Edit Settings option, you will likely see “(this is not yet available to you).” This simply means Facebook has yet to roll out the feature to your account, and you’ll need to wait for it to do so before you can change your privacy settings for it.

For more information about Tag Suggestions, check out the Facebook Help Center.

Image credit: Helmut Gevert