Today, Facebook is proposing a series of changes to its terms if service. There's a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but the most interesting piece is that Facebook wants to start using your profile photo as the basis for suggesting that you be tagged in your friends' photos.
What Facebook's really saying here is that the content of your profile photo -- and your face really -- is now an actionable piece of data that it can associate with your identity. Previously, you could keep Facebook from "knowing" your face by not letting other people removing any tags of you. That's not exactly an option any more. In theory, you could refuse to upload your likeness to Facebook, but that's a pretty extreme measure.
It's always been possible to turn off tag suggestions for your profile. When you do so, it deletes the "template" that Facebook created to identify you. It appears that this deletion applies to any template information that would be created from your Facebook profile photo as well. When we're talking about all this, it's important to remember that most people don't ever touch their privacy settings. So if the proposed changes go through, this is how it's going to be for a majority of users.
So far, Facebook has only posted a section-by-section summary of the changes has been posted, but the actual tracked changes document isn't online yet that we can see. Luckily, ATD has the relevant section in its news post:
We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend's pictures to information we've put together from your profile pictures and the other photos in which you've been tagged.
The old language:
We are able to suggest that your friend tag you in a picture by scanning and comparing your friend's pictures to information we've put together from the other photos you've been tagged in. This allows us to make these suggestions.
In the short-term, the change will improve the company's facial recognition so that it can suggest you be tagged in more photos all over the site. And of course, if it can find you all over the site, then it's got a more comprehensive sense of who you are.
And of course since this is a proposed change, it won't take effect until after a certain waiting and deliberation period -- so if it matters to you, make sure to weigh in.