How to Turn Off Facebook's Facial Recognition Tags

Stop those annoying automatic name tags on Facebook Photos

••• Facebook 

Sure, it's fun—at first. A friend posts a picture of that event the two of you attended and tags you in the image. Even if he or she doesn't tag you, Facebook will gently suggest that your friend do so. So what happens next?

How Facebook Uses the Tag 

Facebook integrates the tag with your profile picture, with other images you have shared, and with other pictures you've been tagged in. In other words, they cast a wide net. Once the net has been cast, Facebook's facial recognition software kicks in, using a proprietary algorithm that's been designed to create a template or number based on all this information.

The next thing you know, you post another photo and Facebook will cheerfully identify your friends in the picture for you based on their algorithm, just in case you've forgotten their names because they're new friends you just met. This becomes a domino effect because the same thing happens whenever another Facebook user tries to post another picture that includes an image of you. 

Much to the chagrin of many Facebook users, all this happens automatically unless you take steps to prevent it. 

What You Can Do to Prevent Tagging 

Facebook assumes that you'll want to use this neat facial recognition widget and it opts you in, which means that once you've been tagged in a single image, or after you use a profile image of your face, Facebook will automatically attempt to tag your name on any other images uploaded to the site. This is a broad-stroke initiative on the part of Facebook and one you would not necessarily know is happening. If you don't want your name and photo popping up unbeknownst to you all over social media, you can choose to opt right back out and turn off the feature.

Steps for Undoing Tagging 

Here's how to turn off, opt out, and stop those annoying auto name tags from appearing in Facebook pictures:

  1. Click on the small inverted triangle icon at the top right of your Facebook page to open the drop-down menu. Click on "Settings."
  2. Next, select "Timeline and Tagging" from the panel that appears on the left side of the new page. "Tagging" will appear at the top of the second section of the next page that opens. 
  3. Three questions will appear here. The first asks you who you want to see posts that you're tagged in. Click on "Edit" next to the question, then on the "Friends" icon. Then you'll be given the option of selecting what friends you want to see these pictures, and you can change "Friends" to "Only me." It's worth noting that "Friends" is Facebook's automatic opt-in. 
  1. Go through the remaining two questions and repeat the process. 

You'll have other options on the "Friends" drop-down menu as well, and you can customize your selections if you only want certain people to be able to see the tags. 

Other Tagged Image Privacy Tips 

You can also choose to hide who can see images you're tagged in by selecting "Photos and Videos You're Tagged In" and clicking "Only me." This way, photos you don't want others to see will not show up on other people's Facebook feed.

You can also review and control your timeline and specify who can post on your timeline by going to the "Timeline and Tagging" page.

Changing your Facebook privacy settings will not automatically delete any tags that have already been added to existing photos, but you can delete them manually by viewing an image you've been tagged in and looking underneath the image for "In this photo: (names of tagged people) (photos · remove tag)." Next, all you have to do is ask for your name to be removed.

What About the Visually Impaired?

Beginning 2018, Facebook made its platform even more accessible for blind users and people with low vision, when it began using its already-existing face recognition technology to identify people in photographs for Facebook users with screen readers.

Using artificial intelligence, Facebook's alt-text tool describes scenery, objects, animals, and people in photographs to vision loss users. Previously, the vision-impaired could only discover the number of people present in a photo, not their identities. Now— regardless of whether people are tagged— users know which friends are in each image. 

Sexual Harassment and Bullying 

In December 2017, Facebook decided to make publicly available its policies on harassment and bullying. Facebook took this action as a direct result of the plethora of sexual harassment allegations and incidences levied by women against male bosses and men in positions of power, as well as allegations made by men against men. While this action alone does not stop incidences of harassment or bullying, it does arm social media users with the information they need to understand their rights.