Google unveils 'Find My Face' tool for Google+

Social network gets facial recognition tool to help users tag their photos

Google dove into the realm of facial recognition on Thursday, unveiling a tagging suggestion feature for its Google+ social network.

Google launched Find My Face, a Google+ tool that's designed to scan photos from users and their friends to find recognizable faces. Much like Facebook's Photo Tag Suggest, the feature then suggests name tags by matching the faces with users' profile photos or other tagged pictures on the site.

"Around the holidays, many of us get together with friends and family, and if you're like me, you take lots of photos," wrote Matt Steiner, leader of Google's Photos group, in a Google+ post. "By turning on Find My Face, Google+ can prompt people you know to tag your face when it appears in photos. Of course, you have control over which tags you accept or reject, and you can turn the feature on or off in Google+ settings."

The feature will be rolling out to Google+ users over the next few days.

Users seemed largely happy with the addition, according to the comments left on Steiner's post.

"Nice! And I'm glad to see that it's not opted in by default," wrote Patrik Johansson.

"I think it is awesome," said another, Mark Hamilton. "I am going to go turn it on to play with the new toys."

Google+ rival Facebook generated some privacy controversy with its facial recognition tool, which was unveiled over the summer.

Some users and analysts were leery of the fact that Facebook, the world's largest social networking site, could identify people simply by their face. And Facebook's facial recognition feature is automatically turned on. Users who don't want the service must manually opt out of it.

Just last month, Germany announced that it was launching legal action against Facebook over the photo-tagging feature.

The country's laws require companies to alert users about how their own data is being used, but the German government said it had not been able to reach an agreement on the issue with Facebook.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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