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Facebook facial recognition finally comes to UK − but it’s optional

Facebook has started asking Europe- and Canada-based users to allow it to use facial recognition to identify them in pictures and videos on the site.

It’s a strange time for the company to roll out the controversial functionality, which has already been live in the US for some time. Mark Zuckerberg and co are under heavy scrutiny at the moment, after the details of millions of users were allegedly leaked and misused by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.

Related: How to delete your Facebook account

“Our face recognition features help protect your privacy and improve your experiences, like detecting when others might be attempting to use your image as their profile picture and allowing us to suggest friends you may want to tag in photos or videos,” it explained in a blog post this morning.

“We’ve offered products using face recognition in most of the world for more than six years. As part of this update, we’re now giving people in the EU and Canada the choice to turn on face recognition. Using face recognition is entirely optional for anyone on Facebook.”

It has also confirmed that facial recognition will not be available for any users under the age of 18.

If you opt in, Facebook will analyse the photos and videos you’re already tagged in and create a “template” for what you look like. Whenever new photos and videos are uploaded to Facebook, it will compare those images to the template to see if it can find you.

You can watch an explainer video here.

The social media firm’s facial recognition rollout has got it into trouble in the US, meanwhile, where it looks set to face a class-action lawsuit.

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