If you’ve been paying attention to your Facebook timeline over the past few weeks, you may have seen an announcement from the social media giant of a new facial recognition feature. The new feature allows Facebook to locate you in any photo or video posted publicly, whether you’re tagged in it or not. You may not even know the picture was taken or who took it.

Facebook and other online companies have been capturing and collecting biometric data such in order to engage its users and encourage more sharing of posts and photos. The biometric data is used whenever you post a picture and Facebook asks if you’d like to tag the people in the photo with the names already attached to their faces.

The new feature will show Facebook users any photos or videos they’re in, even if they’re never tagged.

Last week the new feature appeared on my ‘recent activity’ after someone posted a photo of a large group of people. I was practically hidden in the background but Facebook recognized my face from my profile picture and sent it to me, asking if I’d like to tag myself, ignore it or notify Facebook that it is not me.

 Facebook gives the impression that you will begin receiving notifications of pictures, anytime it believes your face is in it. The photos do not necessarily have to be posted by a Facebook friend.

In the announcement (or notification) of the new feature, Facebook said it thinks users will like finding photos of themselves. It also states that the feature will help users protect their own privacy. Rather than search Facebook for your name you can search for your face. If someone is using a photo of you for their profile picture you can report it to Facebook.

Facebook also states the feature can help the visually impaired get an understanding of a photo by using voice to read the names of people in the photos or videos.

The feature is turned off, Facebook says but I have seen reports that some users have noticed the feature was turned on by default. If you want to change (or check) whether it is turned on or off for your photos, go to settings and you’ll see Facebook added a ‘facial recognition’ tab.

Facebook isn’t alone of course in collecting biometric data. Google knows what you look like too. If you’re not sure about that, go Google your name and tap images.  You’ll probably be surprised how many photos there are of you posted on the internet.

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