From the beginning, Google has taken pains to build in privacy at the basic levels of Google+, likely learning from the missteps that competitor Facebook has made along the way.
So when Google launched a new photo-tagging feature, Find My Face, on its social network Thursday, it was a pleasant but not entirely unexpected surprise to find that Google has made the feature an opt-in.
There’s a big difference between opt-in and opt-out, and — as Joshua Topolsky points out in his column on Carrier IQ this week — that difference is choice. Functionally, Find My Face is nearly identical to Facebook’s facial-recognition “Tag Suggestions” program that automatically scans pictures posted to the network and offers suggestions about who may be in the photo.
Facebook felt the backlash from users who didn’t like that the social network turned on its facial-recognition feature by default, only later adding the option for users to opt-out of the tool. By not switching the feature on for all of its users first and then telling them they can back out of it second, Google looks like it’s offering rather than imposing a new function on its users.