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Consumer
Facebook feature threatens privacy
NEW YORK (6/20/11)--The social networking website Facebook continues to roll out its new facial recognition feature for uploaded photos, “Tag Suggestions,” amidst privacy protection concerns (abcnews.go.com June 10). The new feature scans user-uploaded photos with facial recognition software to automatically--and without permission--identify people photographed in an attempt to make categorizing and sharing of photos easier for Facebook users. Advocacy groups in the U.S. and authorities across the globe are concerned the new feature is a danger to consumer privacy. The Electronic Privacy Information Center and other advocacy organizations in the U.S. recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to order Facebook to suspend the feature. European Union data protection regulators and authorities in the United Kingdom and Ireland announced in early June they are independently looking into the Facebook feature for possible rule violations (consumerreports.org June 13). Concerns surrounding the “Tag Suggestions” feature emphasize the need for Facebook users to adjust their privacy settings to prevent criminals from stealing personal information and using it to commit identity theft and fraud. Here’s how to adjust two important Facebook settings to better protect your privacy: * Tag Suggestions. While many Facebook users will find this new feature useful, you might want to disable it. Here’s how:
  1. Log in to your profile and select “Privacy Settings” under the “Account” drop-down menu located at the top right.
  2. Locate “Sharing on Facebook” and click on the “Customize Settings” link near the bottom of the section.
  3. In the “Things Others Share” section, click on the “Edit Settings” button next to the “Suggest photos of me to friends” option and select “Disable.”
* Contact Info. Your address, phone number, and even your birthday are pieces of information that can be used to steal your identity, exposing you to ID theft and fraud. Follow these steps to conceal this information:
  1. Log in to your profile and choose “Privacy Settings” under the “Account” drop-down menu located at the top right.
  2. Locate “Sharing on Facebook” and click on the “Customize Settings” link near the bottom of the section.
  3. In the “Contact information” section, click on the settings button next to each item such as your address, phone number, and e-mail address and select “Custom.”
  4. Choose the setting you believe is best; the “Only Me” setting hides the information from others; it can only be seen by you when logged in.
For more information, view the “How to Prevent Identity Theft” video in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.


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