On Tuesday, Facebook announced in a blog post that it was working to make it easier for uses to tag photos of their friends and family members. To do this, it has been quietly rolling out facial recognition technology to a test group across the world’s biggest social network since late last year.
That means Facebook‘s system will be able to recognize the faces of its 500 million to 600 million users worldwide. The company will be able to identify you simply by your face.
Facebook noted that starting in just a few weeks, its system will scan all photos posted to Facebook and will offer up the names of the people who appear in the frame. All of Facebook’s users are automatically being added to the database.
The facial recognition feature is automatically turned on. Users who don’t want the service must go in and manually opt out of it (see video below).
A day after the announcement was made, data protection regulators at the European Union said they will launch an investigation into it, according to the Bloomberg news service, which also reported that authorities in the U.K. and Ireland are looking into the matter.
“Tags of people on pictures should only happen based on people’s prior consent and it can’t be activated by default,” said Gerard Lommel, a member of the EU’s Data Protection Working Party, according to Bloomberg. Such automatic tagging suggestions “can bear a lot of risks for users” and the European data-protection officials will “clarify to Facebook that this can’t happen like this.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.