Facebook has reacted to privacy concerns in the European Union by suspending its automatic face-recognition and tagging feature.
Users in the UK and the rest of the EU will not be able to tag photographs for the foreseeable future. The rest of the world remains unaffected at the time of writing.
Various data protection bodies had voiced concerns, many in response to complaints from the general public, about the feature. They specifically include the DPC in Ireland and similar bodies in Germany and Austria.
Prior to this news it was already possible for users to opt out of the service or to set their privacy options to inform them whenever they were tagged in an image - thereby giving them the ability to approve or disapprove of the tag.
If you're an existing user you will probably still find the service is available but this will change on October 15th. Users who are new to Facebook (new accounts) will not be able to use the service.
Facebook had previously defended the feature as recently as in August of this year, claiming it met with all EU regulations on privacy. This was in response to claims from the German DPC that Facebook was illegally collecting images for processing by its systems that would then issue the 'suggested tags' to users.
Prior to that an investigation in Ireland led to Facebook informing users when they were tagged in images and extending the options in privacy control as mentioned earlier in this article.
Social Media Training Solutions will monitor the position and inform you of any changes or redeployment of the service. The loss of the tagging service is unlikely to have any major impact on companies seeking to use Facebook for marketing, customer service or branding purposes, but it does open up the potential for further data protection matters to be brought to the fore in future.
The fact Facebook has reacted to EU concerns is interesting in itself, particularly when you consider their previous stance on the matter.