Facebook said on Tuesday it would begin using facial recognition technology to tell people on the social network when others upload photos of them if they agree to let the company keep a facial template on file.
The company said in a statement that it was making the feature optional to allow people to protect their privacy, but that it thought some people would want to be notified of pictures they might not otherwise know about.
The feature would not immediately be available in Canada and the European Union, Facebook said. Privacy laws are generally stricter in those jurisdictions, though the company said it was hopeful about implementing the feature there in the future.
Tech companies are putting in place a variety of functions using facial recognition technology, despite fears about how the facial data could be used. In September, Apple revealed that users of its new iPhone X would be able to unlock the device using their face.
Facial recognition technology has been a part of Facebook since at least 2010, when the social network began offering suggestions for whom to tag in a photo. That feature also is optional.
For those who have opted in, Facebook creates what it calls a template of a person’s face by analyzing pixels from photos where the person is already tagged. It then compares newly uploaded images to the template.
Facebook deletes the template of anyone who then opts out, Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in a statement.
Under the new feature, people who have opted in would get a notification from Facebook if a photo of them has been uploaded, although only if the photo is one they have access to.