Bullying fears over new Facebook tool
FACEBOOK is staring down another PR disaster, with tech experts warning public backlash to a new facial recognition tool secretly being rolled out could prompt more people to dump the site in droves.
The tool lets users identify people in any photos they post - whether they're friends or not. It also trawls its database to recommend the identities of people not tagged.
"The new facial recognition notification tool ... could be used to harass or bully people," online tech bible The Verge has warned.
"Users will be notified even when they appear in photos uploaded by someone they're not friends with - they simply need to have ... the photo's 'audience' (Facebook's term for who can or cannot see content).
"So, a harasser who isn't able to directly message their target could upload a picture with them in it, perhaps Photoshopped to include a nasty or abusive joke, and Facebook will recognise their face and ping that user, doing the harasser's work for them.
"For profile photos, users don't even need to have mutual friends to be sent a notification."
The latest controversy comes as a social media site called Vero emerges as the first legitimate rival to Facebook in a long time, with tech sites already dubbing it a potential "Facebook killer".
Vero was offering lifetime subscriptions to its first one million users but was forced to extend the deal due to "extraordinary demand". The website is subscription based - which it boasts means that it isn't beholden to advertisers.
It also claims it doesn't "manipulate" or "curate" a person's timeline. And people can't pay to "boost" posts.
The start-up reached the top position on the App Store last month. As its growth has surged, Facebook's share price has tumbled. Its market value has plummeted by $52 billion over the past two days alone.
A #DeleteFacebook campaign was sparked after revelations lobbying firm Cambridge Analytica was able to harvest users' personal information for use in US President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.
Facebook is now facing potential action from the US Federal Trade Commission, a British parliamentary committee and a class-action lawsuit lodged by shareholders yesterday who alleged the company did not disclose the data breach - leading to artificially inflated share prices.
But the social network is yet to see regulatory action from Australia and could avoid it entirely.
While Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim said his office was "making inquiries with Facebook" to determine whether Australians were affected by the data breach, the ACCC declined to say whether the issue would be investigated as part of an upcoming digital inquiry.