That same facial-recognition software that simplifies the process of tagging Facebook photos will soon help make sure your photo isn’t being used as a stranger’s profile picture. On Tuesday, December 19, the company announced new (but optional) Facebook facial recognition tools, along with a handful of new options designed to help curb harassment.
The first tool uses the same software that automatically tags you in photos to look for you in someone else’s profile picture. The tool is designed to combat social media impersonation. If you have the facial-recognition tool turned on, you will get a notification if Facebook spots your face in someone else’s profile picture.
Facebook will also begin to send users notifications if they detect your mug in a photo that wasn’t tagged. The option, Facebook says, allows users to choose whether or not to tag themselves or to reach out to the posting user with concerns. The catch? You will only get a notification if the image was shared either publicly or in a group, you are included in, so the privacy settings of the photo aren’t violated.
While users could turn facial recognition on and off before, Facebook is also simplifying the setting with a single control based on user feedback. Now, users can choose whether to use the facial recognition with one setting rather than setting all of the subcategories. The tools are also launching with expanded systems for visually impaired users that will now include names in the alt-text tool that describes what’s in a photo.
Facebook’s facial-recognition tools have been around since 2010. Earlier this year, Facebook launched other profile photo tools with a similar goal to protect users. The newest tools are rolling out soon, excluding Canada and the European Union, where facial recognition isn’t currently available.
Along with the facial-recognition tools, Facebook today also introduced new options designed for combatting harassment by preventing second accounts from a blocked user from contact and launching options for ignoring (but not blocking) messages.
For users that block a harasser, Facebook is working to help make sure the same person doesn’t create a second account to attempt to contact them after being blocked. The tool works by looking at different signals, such as the IP address, that suggests the new friend request or message is coming from someone the user has already blocked.
A new ignore feature for messages now allows users to stop receiving notifications for new messages without blocking the user entirely. Ignored messages also disable the tool that shows the sender when the messages have been read. The messages are moved to a filtered folder, where they can still be accessed.
The new tools for preventing harassment are a result of working with organizations and safety experts, including groups for domestic violence survivors, as well as discussing the tools with journalists, Facebook said.